Knighthoods for bosses of Vodafone and Reuters

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The Independent Online

The chief executives of two of Britain's largest multinational companies are knighted in today's Queen's Birthday Honour's List, while one of the most ardent critics of poor business practice becomes a dame.

Peter Job, the chief executive of Reuters, who retires next month, is awarded a KBE for services to the information and media industry. Chris Gent, the chief executive of Vodafone, is knighted for his work in the mobile telecommunications industry, with Sheila McKechnie, the director of the Consumers' Association (CA), rewarded for her efforts on behalf of consumers by being made a dame.

For Sir Peter, 59, a knighthood is the crowning glory in a journalistic career spent entirely at Reuters. He joined the foreign and financial news agency as a graduate trainee from Oxford University. He moved into management in the 1970s and ran Reuters' Asian arm until he was appointed chief executive by Christopher Hogg, Reuters' chairman, in 1991. Last year, he launched the most radical change in the company's 150-year history with a £500m investment to develop internet-based services.

As the chief executive of Britain's second largest company by stock market value, Sir Chris's knighthood is public recognition of his achievement in establishing Vodafone as a national champion. From its foundation in 1982, Vodafone is now the world's largest mobile telecoms network company. It was catapulted from domestic company to global giant by Sir Chris's audacious £79bn takeover of Mannesmann of Germany.

Sir Chris, from Gosport, Hampshire, started as a trainee at the NatWest Bank in 1967. He joined Vodafone in 1985 and became chief executive in 1997. Vodafone now faces tougher times with its share price at a three-year low. But in a recent interview, Sir Chris, 53, a former national chairman of the Young Conservatives, said he relished a challenge. "To be very unBritish about it, we are passionate about what we do," he said.

Dame Sheila, 53, turned round the fortunes of the Consumers' Association during her six years in charge.

Under her leadership the association mounted a series of high-profile campaigns on behalf of consumers. She was awarded an OBE in 1995 for her work for the homeless as director of the charity Shelter.

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