New Delhi: Vodafone Essar Ltd, the India unit of Vodafone Group Plc., has named Marten Pieters as chief executive officer after incumbent Asim Ghosh retires on 31 March. Pieters was earlier chief executive of Celtel International BV, a mobile-phone operator in several African countries, and currently a director on the board of Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular SA.
Key contributor: Asim Ghosh, managing director, Vodafone Essar, retires on 31 March and will be succeeded by Marten Pieters. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
Ghosh, 61, will retire after leading the company for 10 years. He will continue as a non-executive member on the board of Vodafone Essar, the company said. Ghosh was managing director of Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt. Ltd, an operating company of Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd, since 1998.
He took over the operations of what is now Vodafone Essar in August 1998, when it operated in the Mumbai area with 140,000 subscribers. It was then known as Max Touch.
The company has since grown to all-India operations with 63 million subscribers, and is India’s third largest telecom operator after Bharti Airtel Ltd and Reliance Communications Ltd.
Ghosh had joined Hutchison Whampoa Ltd in March 1991. He is a graduate of electrical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and a master in business administration from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, the US.
“His contribution to the industry was immense and he had a remarkable understanding of the sector,” T.V. Ramachandran, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India and personal friend of Ghosh, said. “From before 1999 when we were pushing for the national telecom policy to the present, he has been one of the key contributors.”
In the December quarter, Vodafone Essar posted a 37.3% jump in revenues to $674 million (about Rs3,280 crore), the highest in percentage terms among all the countries its parent operates in, the UK-based Vodafone said in a statement on 31 December. It also said the India arm accounts for almost 45% of the group’s global traffic. In May 2007, Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile phone company, acquired a controlling 67% stake in Hutchison Essar for $11.1 billion.