Hutch veteran Sood to replace Pieters as Vodafone India chief

In a change of guard at the top of Vodafone India, its current managing director and chief executive Marten Pieters will step down from 1 April, 2015, to be succeeded by Sunil Sood, at present the chief operating officer at the British telecom giant's Indian arm.

Vodafone India is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Britain's Vodafone Group.

Pieters will continue to remain on the board of Vodafone India in a non-executive capacity, Vodafone India said in a statement.

He was appointed Vodafone India MD and CEO in February 2009, making him the longest-serving chief executive of any Indian telecom company and
led Vodafone India's participation in all spectrum auctions since 2009.

Under his leadership, Vodafone India doubled revenues, added more than 100 million customers, increased market share and launched data services used by more than 57 million customers.

"Marten's term as Chief Executive has been marked by outstanding business performance and exemplary leadership in a highly complex sector and operating environment, said Vodafone India chairman Analjit Singh.

Singh said, "He is to be commended for his many achievements and hands on to his highly experienced and respected successor the stewardship of a substantial enterprise serving the needs of 174 million customers.

Pieters, who had worked with group companies such as KPN, Celtel and Millicom, was appointed as Vodafone India managing director and chief executive in February 2009.

He was appointed chairman of the Cellular Operators Association of India, the GSM operators' body in India, in 2014.

Sood, who had joined Vodafone India's predecessor Hutch in 2000, is currently is responsible for day-to-day operations and profit management as well as new business development initiatives, including the launch and expansion of mobile commerce activities. He has earlier led the company's operations in Gujarat, Kolkata and Chennai.

"Sunil has extensive operating experience and knows Vodafone India from within. He is therefore a great choice to grow and expand the business and I look forward to a successful transition,'' Singh said.

Sood graduated with a B Tech from IIT (Delhi) and PGDM from IIM (Kolkata) and is also a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program. He had previously worked for Pepsi in a range of Indian and international leadership roles.

''It has been a pleasure and a privilege to lead Vodafone India and I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their passion and commitment in support of our goals over the last six years. I am delighted to hand over to Sunil; we have worked closely together throughout my time with Vodafone and I could not wish for a better successor,'' Pieters said.

Sood's successor as Chief Operating Officer will be announced in due course, Vodafone said.