Vodafone Essar initiates reshuffle of top brass

A top-level reshuffle is underway at Vodafone Essar. With the Newbury, England-based Vodafone in the driver’s seat, it was widely expected that there would be some changes at the top. To begin with, Vodafone Essar CFO Christopher J Foll and legal head Geoff Carolan are on their way out.

The two were alternate directors on the board of Hutchison Essar (HEL) before Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin announced the new board in June. According to sources, Mr Foll and Mr Carolan have put in their papers and are likely to be replaced soon. “Vodafone will bring in its own officials for the two posts,” sources told ET.

Vodafone had bought a 67% controlling stake in HEL for $10.8 billion in May, in one of the largest deals in Asia. It is now expected to bring in some of its high-profile officials for various other posts also in the Indian arm, the growth of which is crucial for Vodafone’s topline as well bottomline.

Sources said Vodafone officials are expected to take over the positions by September. Currently, all the operational directors, who look after clusters of circles and are responsible for the operations of particular regions, report to Mr Foll, an Australian national.

He was also looking after the responsibilities of the deputy managing director after Sandip Das quit Hutch in December last year to join Malaysian telco Maxis. Mr Carolan, who is from New Zealand, took the company through a series of legal hurdles in the past year. He was instrumental in battling the Ruias after Hutch moved the Bombay High Court against the Essar group following the non-transfer of BPL Mobile to the company. As the legal chief, he also played a crucial role in securing the FIPB approval for the takeover of HEL by Vodafone.

The new 12-member board of Vodafone Essar is headed by Essar group vice-chairman Ravi Ruia, while Mr Sarin is the vice-chairman.

The board has eight Vodafone representatives and four Essar nominees. Asim Ghosh is the MD, while Max India chairman Analjit Singh and CR Dua are independent directors. Vodafone directors on the board are CEO of Vodafone’s EMAPA region (Eastern Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Affiliates)Paul Donovan, Gavin Darby, deputy group CEO Vittorio Colao and Robert Barr.