Bharti Airtel head to chair GSMA for two years

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Airtel founder Sunil Bharti Mittal appointed to replace Telenor's Jon Fredrik Baksaas as next chair of the GSMA

The GSMA has appointed Bharti Airtel founder Sunil Bharti Mittal to replace Jon Fredrik Baksaas as chair from the start of 2017.

Orange’s executive vice president for innovation, Mari-Noëlle Jego-Laveissiere, will continue as vice-chair of the mobile industry’s trade organisation. She is also the only woman on the board, which has 26 members, including 25 representatives of the largest operators and the GSMA director general, Mats Granryd.

Mittal is the first Indian to head the GSMA, following a string of Europeans dating back eight years. The last non-European was Craig Ehrlich, an American entrepreneur and a board member of Hutchison who headed the organisation for seven years.

“I am delighted to be elected as chairman of the GSMA, and look forward to working closely with the rest of the board, the GSMA leadership team and our entire membership to address the critical issues facing our industry and our customers,” said Mittal.

“In a relatively brief period of time, mobile has had a transformational impact on individuals, businesses, industries and societies, contributing significantly to local economies and improving the lives of billions around the world.”

Mittal’s election was announced at a board meeting held at a GSMA event in New Delhi. 

Baksaas took over from Telecom Italia’s Franco Bernabè, who lost his position in October 2013 when he resigned as CEO of the operator. Baksaas resigned as CEO of Telenor in August 2015 – because of Telenor’s investment in VimpelCom – but stayed on at the top of the GSMA.

The previous chair of the GSMA, appointed in 2008, was Alexander Izosimov, then group CEO of VimpelCom.

Mittal said that as chair of the GSMA he would “support the ongoing mobile broadband revolution in India to boost the government’s Digital India Programme and its vision of broadband access for all.”

The complete board of the GSMA, which will serve from the start of 2017 to the end of 2018, is:

Juan Carlos Archila, executive vice president, international relationships, América Móvil
Bill Hague, executive vice president-global connection management, AT&T Mobility
Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman, Bharti Enterprises
Sha Yuejia, executive director and vice president, China Mobile
Sun Kangmin, executive director and executive vice president, China Telecom
Lu Yimin, President and vice chairman, China Unicom
Wolfgang Kopf, senior vice president, public and regulatory affairs, Deutsche Telekom
Hatem Dowidar, CEO international, Etisalat
Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA
Christian Salbaing, deputy chairman, europe, Hutchison
Takashi Tanaka, president, KDDI
Eelco Blok, CEO, KPN
Chang-Gyu Hwang, chairman and CEO, KT 
Mauricio Ramos, CEO, Millicom
Phuthuma Nhleko, chairman and acting CEO, MTN Group
Andrei Dubovskov, president, MTS
Kazuhiro Yoshizawa, president and CEO, NTT DoCoMo
Mari-Noëlle Jego-Laveissiere, executive vice president, innovation, Orange Group
Dong-Hyun Jang, president and CEO, SK Telecom
Julio Linares López, vice president of the board, Telefónica
Sigve Brekke, president and CEO, Telenor Group
Johan Dennelind, president and CEO, Telia Company
Kaan Terzioğlu, CEO, Turkcell
Roy Chestnutt, chief strategy officer, Verizon
Serpil Timuray, group chief commercial operations and strategy officer, Vodafone
Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain Group