Our Bureau

Mumbai, June 19

THE board of Reliance Infocomm will most certainly be changed; and the company's most high-profile official, Mr Kamal Nanavaty, Chief Operating Officer of the flagship wireless business, will return to Reliance Industries.

Little else would need to change at Reliance Infocomm with respect to its management, said Mr Anil Ambani at a news conference here today.

The younger of the Ambani brothers will soon be king of Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City, headquarters of Reliance Infocomm in Navi Mumbai, where most of the company's 43,000 employees work.

"I see no reason for any change in management," said Mr Ambani, who left most of the questions on Reliance Infocomm unanswered, with an assurance to address them at a subsequent press briefing. The company had talented people who have done an outstanding job in breadth of services and created the largest mobile service with a subscriber base of over 11 million, he noted.

Currently, the board of Reliance Infocomm has as its directors Mr Anand Jain, who is certain not to remain on it; Mr Bhagwan Khurana who is Group President of Reliance Infocomm and has telecom expertise; Mr Bharat Goenka of Tally Solutions which is now a Reliance Infocomm group company, and Mr Manoj Modi.

Mr Mukesh Ambani, of course, is the Chairman of the company.

With respect to the management, the other senior official who is likely to return to Reliance Industries, besides Mr Nanavaty, is Mr Sanjay Mashruwala. Mr Mashruwala is President, Projects, at Reliance Infocomm.

The other operational heads are Mr Prakash Bajpai, who heads the company's fixed phone business; Mr Mahesh Prasad, President, Applications; and Mr Arun Sur who heads the Networks division. These officials are professionals with domain expertise and are likely to remain where they are, said officials close to the company.

About the issues of corporate governance that had been raised about Reliance Infocomm, he said corporate governance and corporate values were going to be a priority at the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Enterprises group. "If there is any issue on any dimension, the appropriate course of action will be taken."

According to him, the company is in a financially strong position, having announced a net profit in 2004-2005. The company posted a net profit of Rs 51 crore on revenues of Rs 5,387 crore. Last year, it had reported a net loss of Rs 391 crore.

Even while it was becoming clear that Reliance Infocomm would be headed by Mr Anil Ambani, telecom analysts had felt that little would change with respect to the company's management."They are the most innovative and proactive telecom company in the country, ever on their toes," one of the analysts had said. The opinion was that an outwardly more vocal person such as Mr Anil Ambani (in comparison to his brother) would suit a retail, service industry, such as telecom.

Even otherwise, the culture at Reliance has been that very few officials are distinctively high profile in the public realm, felt analysts. However, the market is curious about who will replace Mr Nanavaty, who heads the most well known business of Reliance Infocomm which is wireless operations. The next large project that remains to be announced as operational at Reliance Infocomm is Netway, a retail offer with voice, television and streaming video facilities.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 20, 2005)
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