London, Dec. 18 (Agencies): Indian-born American Arun Sarin will take over as the chief executive of Vodafone, Europe’s biggest mobile phone group and one of the largest companies in the world, replacing one of the most high-profile business leaders in the region.
The 48-year-old Sarin, an IIT Kharagpur alumnus, succeeds Chris Gent, who announced his retirement today. Sarin will take up his new assignment in July.
Gent, 54, one of the biggest deal-makers during one of the wildest acquisition binges in corporate history, is bowing out just as the acquisition trail runs cold.
Vodafone said it would give Sarin the same pay package as Gent, including a base salary of £1.1 million.
Sarin is a former colleague of Gent and had left Vodafone less than two years ago with a £1.1-million pay-off after a merger in the US squeezed out his position. Now an American citizen, Sarin became a Vodafone executive after his old firm, AirTouch Communications, was bought by the mobile phone giant.
He left his job of managing Vodafone’s operations in the US, Asia and Australasia to head Internet software company InfoSpace in 2000, though he remained a Vodafone non-executive director. Sarin now runs Accel-KKR Telecom, a San Francisco-based communications business.
“I believe Sarin does have a good reputation and is well-known among US investors but the UK investors don’t really know him. So, it will take some time to convince them,” said Karen Robertson, investment director at Standard Life Investments.
Sarin has more of an operational background than Gent. Gent’s retirement announcement surprised some investors, and Vodafone shares fell as much as three per cent. The shares recovered some ground later.