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MUMBAI: UK's telecom giant Vodafone on Thursday appointed the first Indian CEO, Sunil Sood, for its India operations to replace Martin Pieters who has been its chief executive since 2009.

Pieters, the longest serving chief executive officer of a telecom firm in the country, will step down from April 1 and will be succeeded by Sood, presently COO of the company.

Pieters took over from Asim Ghosh as Vodafone-Essar CEO. Essar exited from the venture in 2011 and last year the British company acquired the India operations completely.

"Marten has been a fantastic leader in India and a wise and trusted contributor across the Group as a whole. I look forward to working with Sunil to build on the successes of a business widely admired in India and internationally," UK- based Vodafone group's chief executive Vittorio Colao said in a statement.

Pieters has been serving Vodafone India as its managing director and CEO since February 2009. He will remain on the board of Vodafone India in a non- executive capacity, it said.

"Marten's term as chief executive has been marked by outstanding business performance and exemplary leadership in a highly complex sector and operating environment. Sunil has extensive operating experience and knows Vodafone India from within," Vodafone India's chairman of the board Analjit Singh said.

Under Pieters' leadership, Vodafone India doubled revenues, added more than 100 million customers, increased market share and launched data services used by more than 57 million customers.

"The longest-serving Chief Executive of an Indian telecommunications company, he has led Vodafone India's participation in all spectrum auctions since 2009. Pieters was appointed as the chairman of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in 2014," the statement said.

Pieters successor Sood is currently the Vodafone India's chief operating officer and is responsible for day-to-day operations together with new business development initiatives including the launch and expansion of mobile commerce activities.

Sood joined Vodafone India's predecessor business, Hutch, in 2000 and has held roles leading the company's operations in Gujarat, Kolkata and Chennai.

He had previously worked for Pepsi in a range of Indian and international leadership roles.

Sood graduated with a B Tech from IIT Delhi and PGDM from IIM Kolkata and is also a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.

Sood's successor as COO will be announced in due course, the statement said.