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Virgin Mobile founder steps down

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The founder of Virgin Mobile is to step down as chief exec once the cellco is finally gobbled up by NTL in July.

Tom Alexander is said to have "inspired the founding of Virgin Mobile" in the late 1990s by securing the backing of Richard Branson and brokering a JV deal with mobile partner T-Mobile.

He was also in charge when the cellco listed on the stock exchange in 2004 and, of course, helped secure the NTL deal.

But the £962m acquisition - which will see NTL offer TV, broadband, phone and mobile services under the Virgin brand - is also time for Alexander to step back from the firm he founded, although he will stay on in an "advisory role" for the rest of the year.

In a statement today, he described the job as being "an all-consuming passion" but admitted that "now is a good time for me to take a break".

It was also announced that Alan Gow, currently CFO, will become MD of Virgin Mobile, while half a dozen or so non exec directors will stand down.

The reshuffle at the top of Virgin Mobile should come as no surprise. NTL is currently in the process of merging its operation with Telewest. Adding another company means greater scope for duplication - or should that be triplication?

Either way, there are simply too many people chasing too few jobs. Only last week NTL confirmed pans to axe around 6,000 UK jobs while outsourcing a "significant number" as part of its merger with Telewest. NTL chief exec Steve Burch said the job losses were part of the cableco's plan to "accelerate our integration program" so it can save £250m a year by the end of 2007. ®

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