Sarin asserts control in shake-up of Vodafone management team

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The Independent Online

Arun Sarin, the chief executive of Vodafone, moved to grab more day-to-day control of the world's biggest mobile phone company yesterday by announcing a management shake-up which will see the group's operating companies report to him directly.

Arun Sarin, the chief executive of Vodafone, moved to grab more day-to-day control of the world's biggest mobile phone company yesterday by announcing a management shake-up which will see the group's operating companies report to him directly.

Vodafone's current chief operating officer, Sir Julian Horn-Smith, will be given the post of deputy chief executive in the boardroom revamp but will have less operating responsibility. He will instead be given responsibility for "business development", a new function created by Mr Sarin to grow Vodafone's sales through partner networks that use the Vodafone brand and product but in which Vodafone does not own an equity stake.

Vodafone also announced that Andy Halford, the finance director at Verizon Wireless, its US joint venture, will replace Ken Hydon who is retiring as Vodafone's finance director.

The more direct lines of reporting to Mr Sarin are designed to focus Vodafone's operations around the world more sharply on what customers want. It has lost ground, noticeably in Japan, and is trying to turn its international operations into a more coherent, integrated company.

Mr Sarin recently promised that this initiative, known internally as One Vodafone, would deliver £2.5bn more operating cash flow by 2008. After joining the company in April last year as chief executive designate, he inherited a disparate group of businesses assembled through an acquisition spree by his predecessor, Sir Christopher Gent.

Mr Sarin said yesterday: "We are creating an organisation that is better positioned to respond to the high expectations of our customers. Faster execution will enable us to extend our lead within the mobile industry and deliver the benefits to our customers, our employees and our shareholders." .

However, some analysts dismissed the move. Mark James, of Nomura Telecoms Research, said: "Forget about the reorganisation; take a look at Japan. The lack of an adequate handset range ... has caused the company to lose market share. [It] has placed much emphasis on the recently announced [third generation] handset line-up. Trouble is the competition has not been standing still. We believe there is no quick fix to Vodafone's problems in Japan."

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