'Golden goodbye' for Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin

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London, Jun 11: Arun Sarin, the head of Britain's biggest mobile phone company, could walk off with more than 25 million pounds after announcing his unexpected departure from the group. The departing chief executive of Vodafone, will leave the mobile phone company he has run for the past five years in July.

He will step down at next month's annual meeting, but stay as a consultant on a "nominal" salary until his retirement in March 2009. The Indian-born American, 53, said that he intends to go travelling. Having accumulated a total of 22 million pounds in shares and a salary of just under 3.6 million pounds last year, Sarin, who according to The Sunday Times Rich List is already worth about 60 million pounds.

Sarin is credited with having transformed Vodafone from a company reliant on European markets to a global player, The Times reported.

His telecoms career began in 1984 when he was asked to evaluate whether a company called PacTel could make a go of "this thing called a cellular licence" that it owned in Los Angeles.

Sarin rose to number two at PacTel's mobile offshoot, AirTouch, making 17 million pounds when it was sold to Vodafone in 1999.

He then headed Vodafone's US business until he helped to merge it with a rival company, a move that meant he left the group. However, Sarin returned to head the entire group in 2003, replacing Sir Christopher Gent, one of Britain's most revered dealmakers.

Sarin time at the helm coincided with enormous growth in the mobile markets. He had to survive a rocky patch in 2005 when infighting culminated in demands for his resignation from one of Vodafone's main shareholders.

According to Vodafone's annual report, released on Tuesday, Sarin has 28.5 million shares and share options that he cannot sell until he leaves his consultancy role in 2009.


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