Arun Sarin to leave Vodafone in July

Arun SarinMumbai: The Indian-born CEO of telecommunications giant, Arun Sarin, will retire at the end of July as CEO of Europe's largest telecom firm Vodafone Group Plc, which posted a 2-per cent rise in pre-tax profit at £8.9 billion.

53-year old Sarin will will hand over charge in July to his second in command, Vittorio Colao, who runs the company's European operations and was pipped to the top post by Sarin in 2003.

"I feel that I have accomplished what I set out to achieve, particularly in developing and implementing a new strategy," said Sarin in a statement.

Under Sarin's reign, Vodafone moved back into the black by moving into developing markets such as India and Turkey, and moving out of slower-growing markets such as Japan. Incumbent Colao will face heightened competition from competitors in these emerging markets, from well entrenched players such as Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd. Analysts say the entry into emerging markets was better late than never.

India and Turkey are two of the fastest-growing telecom markets in the world's top-20 mobile-phone markets list. Under Sarin, Vodafone's shares have buoyed 39 per cent since he took over the reigns in 2003.

Vodafone outperformed the benchmark since February 2007, when Sarin entered India with the $10.7-billion acquisition of Hutchison's telecommunications stake in Hutchison Essar, India's fourth largest telcom firm, to form Vodafone Essar Ltd., which was also his biggest acquisition.