Billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Aditya Birla Group, listens during an interview in Mumbai, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Birla To Head Merged Idea-Vodafone As Non-Executive Chairman

Billionaire owner of the Aditya-Birla group Kumar Mangalam Birla will head the merged entity of Idea Cellular Ltd. and Vodafone India that is set to become India’s largest telecom company.

Birla will be the non-executive chairman of the board of the merged company, according to stock exchange filing. Balesh Kumar, currently the chief operating officer of Vodafone India, will be appointed the chief executive officer of the new business, the statement added.

The proposed leadership team of the merged entity is as follows:

  • Akshaya Moondra, currently chief financial officer at Idea, will take over the same role in the new entity.
  • Ambrish Jain, a deputy managing director at Idea, will be the chief operating officer
  • Nick Gliddon, who currently heads business services at Vodafone India, will lead the merged enterprise business.
  • Manish Dawar, chief financial officer at Vodafone India, will be responsible for integration planning, governance and execution

The appointment of the new leadership team comes at a time when telecom operators are joining forces to fend off competition from Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. Jio’s entry triggered a price war that diluted profits at telecom companies and pushed out smaller players like Tata Teleservices and Aircel Ltd.

The proposed leadership team has extensive operational experience and is an excellent blend of expertise from both companies.
Vodafone And Idea Joint Media Statement

Vodafone Group Plc had agreed to merge its Indian unit with Idea in March last year in a deal that would see Vodafone own 45 percent of the merged company. Birla’s holding companies will initially own 26 percent in the publicly traded company, with the right to equalise their stake by buying more from Vodafone. The two firms will share control of the entity, the operators had said previously. The merger is expected to be completed by March-end.

See the full list of appointees here.