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BSNL Faces Exec Crisis

7:40 AM -- A senior management crisis is fast developing at Indian state-owned carrier Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) , with the top team in disarray and positions lying vacant.

The operator, which has an 11-strong management board, has been without a Finance Director since S.D. Saxena retired last year, while the director of corporate marketing, Rajendra Prasad, retired on May 31 this year and has not yet been replaced.

Most pressing of all, perhaps, is the imminent departure of Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Kuldeep Goyal. Although he is due to retire next month, his successor has yet to be identified.

BSNL had created an internal shortlist of 20 candidates who might take on the CMD role. But following a report earlier this year from a committee headed by Sam Pitroda, adviser on public information, infrastructure, and innovation to India’s Prime Minister, that process was halted. Pitroda's report recommended the operator should appoint an external candidate. (See Is BSNL in Revamp Mode?)

BSNL's current director of Human Resources, Gopal Das, is likely to step in as interim CMD until the company decides on a full-time appointment, but such a stop-gap strategy is only likely to add to the current woes of BSNL, which faces serious financial and competitive challenges in the 20 circles (service areas) in which it operates. (See IPO Not the Cure for BSNL's Ills.)

— Gagandeep Kaur, India Editor, Light Reading

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