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AG Rao CTO of Tata Teleservices resigns

AG Rao, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Tata
Teleservices, has quit the company amidst speculation that the company’s managing
director N Srinath will shortly move to a larger strategic role in the Tata Group.

AG Rao, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Tata
Teleservices, has quit the company amidst speculation that the company’s managing
director N Srinath will shortly move to a larger strategic role in the Tata Group.

A Tata Teleservices spokeswoman said Rao had been
“relieved on December 10, following his decision to pursue career
opportunities outside the company”, but declined to comment on Srinath’s
possible elevation to a larger role in the group. “We don’t comment on
speculation,” she said.

Top executives familiar with the matter said Srinath, the
former CEO of Tata Communications, had joined Tata Tele as managing director in
February 2011 on a two-year contract which would shortly come up for renewal.

“As one of the senior-most executives who has served as
CEO of two Tata Group telecom ventures and is considered close to group
chairman-designate Cyrus Mistry, Srinath’s moving to Bombay House in a larger
role is quite possible,” said one of these executives speaking on
condition of anonymity.

Company insiders say Tata Communications’ chief network
officer and head customer service operations, Madhusudhan Mysore, is tipped to
succeed Rao as the CTO of Tata Teleservices. “Details of Mr Rao’s
replacement will be announced in due course,” the company spokeswoman
said, while declining to comment on who the successor will be.

These senior level management changes are taking place in
the backdrop of the company not bidding for CDMA frequencies in Assam, the
northeast, and Jammu & Kashmir, the three circles in which the Supreme
Court cancelled its licences. The company has this year following a strategy of
weeding out inactive customers and subsequently its subscriber base has fallen
from 91 million in June 2011 to 78.35 million by end-September 2012.

Tata Tele is seeking to grow its GSM services and has been
waiting to get spectrum for the last four years in Delhi and 39 districts
across nine circles. Last month, the Cabinet had approved a proposal to give
4.4 MHz of start-up spectrum to the company in Delhi at no additional charge if
adequate airwaves are available, post-auctions.

Analysts say that the company’s late switch to GSM, its lack
of GSM airwaves in key markets like Delhi, and a shrinking CDMA footprint were
some of the factors that were deterring the company’s growth.

“Late entry into the GSM business is always a huge
disadvantage for any telco in India. Given their continuing spectrum woes on
the GSM front, I won’t be surprised if they look at combining resources with
another telco with the M&A approach,” said Mahesh Uppal, director of
Com First (India).

There have been media reports about Norway’s Telenor being
in talks with Tata Teleservices to combine their operations in India to create
what would be the fourth-largest mobile carrier by users in the country. But
Telenor’s chief executive Jon Fredrick Baksaas has said that the Nordic telco
was not scouting for new Indian partners.

[Source: TOI]
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