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Sarin to step down, eyes PE biz

Last updated on: May 27, 2008 14:18 IST

Indian-origin telecom titan Arun Sarin, who is retiring as Vodafone CEO in July, is likely to venture into private equity business and may also join boards of large international companies as a non-executive director.

After five years as CEO of one of the largest mobile operators in the world, Sarin would retire at the end of Vodafone's AGM on July 29, 2008, and would be succeeded by deputy chief executive Vittorio Colao.

Sarin became CEO in July 2003 and has led Vodafone's evolution into a full-fledged communications company.

"Under his leadership, Vodafone has developed and implemented a new strategy," the company said, adding as part of this strategy, it has expanded into emerging markets including Romania, Czech Republic, Turkey and most recently, India, where Sarin led the acquisition of Hutchison Essar.

Vodafone's acquisition of Hutch Essar is the largest foreign investment made in India.  Besides, under Sarin's leadership, Vodafone also disposed of businesses in Japan and Sweden, together with interests in Switzerland and Belgium.

Vodafone's customer base more than doubled from 120 million to over 260 million globally under Sarin's leadership, while returns to shareholders also grew with dividends rising more than 400 per cent.

"I feel I have accomplished what I set out to achieve, particularly in developing and implementing a new strategy," Sarin said in a statement.

Vodafone chairman John Bond said that Sarin significantly expanded Vodafone's footprint in emerging markets and the acquisition in India was very well timed and executed.

Sarin, 53, is an IIT graduate and also holds a MS in Engineering and an MBA from the University of California.
He started his career as a management consultant before moving, in 1984, to Pacific Telesis Group in San Francisco, where he was instrumental in the company acquiring the first cellular licences in the US as well as winning the first cellular licence in Germany and a PCN licence in the UK.

Following the demerger from Pacific Telesis of the mobile and paging businesses to form AirTouch Communications, Sarin was appointed senior vice-president corporate strategy and development, and later, president with responsibility to manage cellular and paging operations in 14 countries.

He was a key negotiator in the merger of AirTouch with Vodafone Group Plc and was appointed CEO of US/Asia-Pac region of the combined business.

In 2000, with the merger of Vodafone AirTouch's US businesses with those of Bell Atlantic and GTE to form Verizon Wireless, Sarin, whilst remaining a non-executive director of Vodafone AirTouch Plc, became CEO of Infospace, a provider of mobile internet content and directory services.

In 2001 Sarin joined Accel-KKR Telecom, a telecom investment and management business. In April 2003, he became CEO designate of Vodafone Group Plc and assumed the post of chief executive on July 30, 2003.

The next CEO Vittorio Colao, 46, is reserve officer of the Italian Carabinieri Army. Vodafone also announced that its non-executive directors Michael Boskin and Jurgen Schrempp would not be seeking re-election at the AGM.

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