Virgin Mobile chief executive to quit after takeover by NTL

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The Independent Online

Tom Alexander, the founder and chief executive of Virgin Mobile, will quit after NTL completes its acquisition of the company this summer. However, the racing enthusiast has not ruled out working with Sir Richard Branson in the future.

"I'd be tempted to work with Richard again," Mr Alexander said. He will maintain an advisory role as a consultant to Virgin Mobile for the rest of 2006 and will walk away more than £18m richer.

Given Virgin Mobile's success, Sir Richard might be tempted to work with Mr Alexander again. In just seven years, Virgin Mobile has added £1.1bn to Virgin Group's coffers, the largest return on investment Virgin has achieved since it was founded in the early 1970s. A licensing deal with NTL to use the Virgin brand will add more value.

Mr Alexander had been expected to leave Virgin Mobile since NTL's plans to buy the mobile phone services provider emerged in December. Alan Gow, Virgin Mobile's chief financial officer, will be managing director after Mr Alexander leaves. Joe Steel will remain commercial director and deputy managing director. Both have been with the company since 1999.

Mr Alexander, 46, founded Virgin Mobile in 1999 and rapidly built the business into a major player in the UK mobile telecoms industry. It leases capacity on T-Mobile's UK network and has 4.3 million customers in the UK. Mr Alexander presided over the flotation of the business in 2004 and the impending sale to NTL. NTL plans to offer UK cable television, fixed and mobile telecoms services and broadband internet under the Virgin brand.

Mr Alexander wants to pursue his passion for vintage racing cars and will participate in the European GT Championship this year, racing an Aston Martin DBR9 across Europe. He was forced to give up a racing career after a sponsorship deal collapsed when he was 21. Mr Alexander said: "I've been my own boss for seven years and have had the freedom to make all the decisions - now I want to enjoy the money!"

The NTL deal is due to to be completed on 4 July.