To strengthen its wireless services business, which has faced severe challenges in recent times, Reliance Communications Ltd (R-Com), a part of Anil Ambani‘s Reliance Group, is tapping into an external talent pool, including elder brother Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).
In the past three months, India’s second largest mobile phone company by subscribers, has hired three senior executives to look after functions within the wireless business such as device and data services, brand and communications, and finance.
Kaushik Pillalamarri, who has joined as head of R-Com’s data and devices segment, will lead the company’s focus in the fast-growing data segment as well as evaluate introduction of new devices in the Indian markets, said a senior company executive, who did not want to be identified. Pillalamarri joined R-Com from Verizon Communications Inc., where he was director for new product innovation and development, and based in the US.
Peshwa Acharya, who was a vice-president and chief of marketing at Reliance Retail Ltd, RIL’s retail arm, has joined R-Com as a senior vice-president for brand and communications in its wireless division.
The telecom operator has also hired Deepak Gupta as chief financial officer of its wireless business. Gupta was previously with real estate firm Emaar MGF Land Ltd, where he was vice-president for finance.
R-Com has recruited Terry Coutinho to head its business process outsourcing operations. Coutinho was earlier heading service partnership at Vodafone Essar Spacetel Ltd.
Syed Safawi, president of R-Com’s wireless business, said attracting talent from outside the company is as important a growth strategy as developing internal manpower.
We are glad to evoke keen interest from seasoned professionals from leading global and Indian telcos in wanting to further their careers at Reliance Communications, Safawi said.
R-Com had rough sailing in fiscal 2011.
It is one of the entities being examined for a possible role in the alleged wrongdoings in the government auction of second generation telecom spectrum in 2008. Three of its executives are in prison pending investigation.
Ajay Parmar, head of research at Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd, said hiring a person to lead R-Com’s brand and communications function may be a strategy to defend the company’s image.
R-Com is also under pressure because of a tariff war between telecom operators in India. Its performance on some key indicators have declined.
Average revenue per user fell to Rs.116 as on 31 March from Rs.158 a year ago. In the same period, revenue per minute on R-Com’s wireless network declined 8.33% to Rs.0.44, but has been stable at that level the past two quarters.
Minutes of usage per subscriber declined 21% to 262.
On Friday, R-Com and another Reliance Group company, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, were removed from the Sensex, the 30-stock benchmark equity index of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
Over the past year, R-Com’s share price lost 50.3% on the BSE, while the Sensex gained 1.44%. R-Com’s closing price of Rs.95.1 a share on Friday was a decline of 88.41% from a high of Rs.820.8 a share on 9 January 2008.
R-Com’s wireless business, which accounts for 53% of its consolidated gross revenue, has been under pressure the past year and the new appointments might be to provide a fillip to the business, analysts said.
The company has gone through a tough time and some senior-level people have moved out. The new recruitments may be a consequent re-alignment, said a telecom analyst with a Mumbai-based brokerage. He, too, did not want to be identified.