Mi­cro­max Di­als Up Pros, Names Vi­neet Taneja CEO

Hand­set maker may also rope in for­mer Air­tel In­dia head San­jay Kapoor as chair­man

The Economic Times - - Business Of Brands -

ANANDITA SINGH MANKO­TIA & CHAITALI CHAKRAVARTY

Hand­set maker Mi­cro­max has ap­pointed Vi­neet Taneja, a for­mer se­nior Bharti Air­tel ex­ec­u­tive, as its CEO, and is in talks with the tele­com op­er­a­tor’s for­mer In­dia head, San­jay Kapoor, for the post of chair­man. People fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter also said that the com­pany is try­ing to rope in Badal Ba­gri, an­other se­nior Bharti Air­tel ex­ec­u­tive, as chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer. “We are in dis­cus­sions with pro­fes­sion­als and in­di­vid­u­als re­gard­ing cer­tain se­nior man­age­ment and board po­si­tions,” Vikas Jain, co-founder and busi­ness di­rec­tor at Mi­cro­max, told ET. “How­ever, we can't di­vulge any names at this point of time and would not like to com­ment on mar­ket spec­u­la­tion on who would be the CFO or chair­man,” Jain said. Kapoor, who had quit Air­tel last year, and Ba­gri, who is serv­ing his no­tice pe­riod with In­dia's top telco, did not re­spond to ET’s queries about the talks. The coun­try’s No. 2 smart­phone maker cur­rently has co-founders Jain and Rahul Sharma at the helm. Con­cerns were raised about Mi­cro­max’s cor­po­rate gov­er­nance stan­dards af­ter co-founder and for­mer MD Ra­jesh Agar­wal re­signed last year fol­low­ing his ar­rest for al­leged bribery. Agar­wal has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and is cur­rently out on bail. Soon af­ter Agar­wal’s res­ig­na­tion, the then CEO, Deepak Mal­ho­tra, had also quit, cit­ing per­sonal rea­sons. Mi­cro­max, which is pop­u­lar for its af­ford­able hand­sets, holds 16% share in the do- mes­tic smart­phone mar­ket that is led by Sam­sung. The com­pany sells over 3 mil­lion mo­bile hand­sets a month, of which about a third are smart­phones.

Ac­cord­ing to IDC, the smart­phone mar­ket surge in 2013 — over 44 mil­lion units shipped, up from 16.2 mil­lion in 2012 — has been mainly pow­ered by home­grown ven­dors like Mi­cro­max.

People fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said Mi­cro­max’s pri­vate eq­uity part­ners have been press­ing for a pro­fes­sional se­nior man­age­ment to drive the com­pany’s next phase of growth. Jain, how­ever, de­nied that there was any pres­sure from PE play­ers. He said the ap­point­ments were be­ing made to re­align the com­pany to per­form in a data-cen­tric growth mar­ket.

“Apart from leading the com­pany's growth and prof­itabil­ity, he (Taneja) will spear­head the trans­for­ma­tional agenda of Mi­cro­max, given the bur­geon­ing op­por­tu­nity in the de­vices space glob­ally,” Mi­cro­max co-founder Rahul Sharma said in a state­ment on Sun­day. At Air­tel, Taneja had held the post of op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor for south In­dia and Sri Lanka. Taneja was the coun­try head for IT and mo­bile businesses of Sam­sung In­dia till re­cently.

Mi­cro­max, which dropped plans of a share sale in 2011 be­cause of poor mar­ket con­di­tions, could be look­ing at an IPO in three years’ time, said a per­son fa­mil­iar with the com­pany’s plans.

Taneja, on his part, said that the de­vices busi­ness glob­ally is at an “in­flec­tion point” and he would aim to take Mi­cro­max to mar­kets such as East­ern Europe, South­east Asia and Africa, apart from Rus­sia, where the com­pany has launched sales.

Last year, Mi­cro­max roped in Hol­ly­wood star Hugh Jack­man as its brand am­bas­sador to im­prove and ex­pand its brand pres­ence out­side the coun­try.

Taneja has over 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence, hav­ing worked with con­sumer brands like Hindustan Lever and Nokia, apart from Bharti Air­tel and Sam­sung. He holds a de­gree in en­gi­neer­ing from IIT-Roor­kee and is an alum­nus of IIM-Cal­cutta.

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