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Gent quits Voda

Denies 'whispering campaign'

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Sir Christopher Gent has quit his role as life president of Vodafone, following ongoing speculation about boardroom rifts and bust-ups.

The man who took Vodafone from a £7.5bn business to one valued at more than £75bn issued a statement yesterday announcing that he was walking away from the Newbury-based company.

Along with chairman Lord MacLaurin, Sir Christopher represented the "old guard" at Vodafone who, it is alleged, were keen to unseat Vodafone boss Arun Sarin.

This has been rejected by both men. Yesterday, Lord MacLaurin issued a statement in which he said he backed Sarin and that "any other suggestion is completely untrue".

As for Sir Christopher, he denied allegations that he tried to "interfere with the company and obstruct current management" insisting that the allegations were "without foundation".

"If there is a 'whispering campaign' or 'conspiracy', which I very much doubt, then I am not party to it."

And in what is being seen as a dig at the "new order", he said: "When I was an executive at Vodafone, relationships within the company and at board level were characterised by openness and trust. We were mercifully free of company politics and blame culture."

Sir Christopher's departure is the latest of Vodafone's infighting casualties after the shock departure of top marketing man Peter Bamford last week.

Elsewhere, the Business newspaper reported that US telco Verizon Communications is mulling the idea of buying out Voda's 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless for about $40bn. Verizon has already made an informal bid and is waiting to hear back, the paper said. ®

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