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Vodafone's Gent to retire next year

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Vodafone boss Chris Gent is to quit the mobile operator next July, it was announced today.

He will be replaced by Arun Sarin (48), who is currently chief exec of Accel-KKR Telecom in San Francisco. Sarin is also a non-exec director of Vodafone, among others, and was formerly president and COO of AirTouch Communications until 1999.

He'll receive the same remuneration package as Gent including a basic salary of £1.1m plus other incentives. In a statement from Vodafone chairman Lord MacLaurin it was revealed that Gent had signalled his interest earlier this year in leaving the company in the second half of 2003.

Said Lord MacLaurin: "This appointment is part of a carefully orchestrated succession plan which I have put in place at Vodafone.

"Chris has contributed a huge amount of time and energy to the Company and it is a testament to his achievements that Vodafone is now positioned as the global leader in mobile telecommunications," he said.

However, Gent has not been without his critics especially after racking up a £10 million bonus in cash and shares for the successful takeover of rival phone company Mannesmann.

Defending Gent's record the company said that Vodafone's market cap had grown tenfold to £75bn since January 1997 when Gent took over as chief exec. ®

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