BusinessCompany NewsAudit committee member to succeed Gent

Audit committee member to succeed Gent

A member of Vodafone's audit committee is to take over as chief executive after the mobile phone giant unexpectedly announced Sir Christopher Gent is stepping down.

Link: Investor uproar at Sir Christopher’s £1.5m bonus

Audit Committee member Arun Sarin, who is currently the chief executive of San Francisco-based Accel Telecom, has been a member of Vodafone’s board since 1999 when he was made head of Vodafone’s Americas and Asia region.

He will succeed Sir Christopher in July.

Sir Christopher, one of the most hi-profile businessmen in the UK, is expected to stay on as a consultant until the end of the year. He has been with Vodafone since 1997, and oversaw the £101bn acquisition of German telecom giant Mannesmann in 2000 – the biggest-ever deal of its kind across Europe.

His replacement, Sarin, is also non-executive director of Charles Schwab Corp, Cisco Systems and Gap Inc, but is expected to step down from most of these boards to devote more time to Vodafone, the company said.

Sarin will relocate to the UK and join the executive committee on 1 April 2003. His remuneration package has a base salary of £1.1m and incentives the same as Sir Christopher’s.

The company said Sir Christopher had expressed his intention to leave Vodafone at the end of 2003, earlier this year. However, it admitted no announcement was made to that respect, as Sir Christopher had said he wanted to leave privately. Vodafone did not specify a reason for his departure.

Its chairman, Lord MacLaurin, said Sir Christopher was not put under any pressure to leave and that the appointment of Sarin was ‘part of a carefully orchestrated succession plan.’

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