Arun Sarin: Global telecom Czar

Arun SarinThough he is the top executive of the largest telecom company in the world by revenues and Europe's most profitable company, Arun Sarin has not received as much attention in the Indian media as Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi has.

While Pepsi is a high profile brand in India, Vodafone is relatively unknown. In India, Vodafone is probably known only for its sponsorship of the England cricket team. But that is about to change as Sarin starts his big push into the Indian telecom market with Vodafone's successful acquisition of Hutchison Whampoa's stake majority stake in Hutchison-Essar, India's fourth largest telecom firm.

The 52-year old Sarin graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 1975 and did his masters from the University of California at Berkeley. He started his career in the telecom industry in 1984 when he joined Pacific Telesis group in the US. He became a director at AirTouch, which was spun off from Pacific Telesis, in July 1995, and was its president and COO when the company was acquired by Vodafone for more than $66 billion. After the acquisition, he became Vodafone's CEO for the US and Asia Pacific.

He left Vodafone in 2000 when the company merged its US operations into Verizon Wireless, only to return a few years later. During the years away from Vodafone he was the CEO of a software company and also tried his hand as a venture capitalist

Sarin succeeded Christopher Gent as Vodafone's CEO in 2003 and inherited a company, which was reeling under the costs of expensive buyouts at the peak of the technology boom. Under Gent, Vodafone had spent more than $300 billion in a series of high profile acquisitions, including the $230- billion takeover of German telecom group Mannesmann AG, the biggest ever buyout in history.

Vodafone had to write down its investments in these acquisitions substantially, which affected its bottom line for years. For the financial year ended March 2006, Vodafone had reported a net loss of over $43 billion - the biggest ever loss in European corporate history.