Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin is stepping down in July after five years. The news comes as the mobile operator reports strong revenues for the year to March 31.
Vittorio Colao, currently deputy chief executive, will replace Sarin when he retires at the end of July. Sarin is credited with successfully leading the company through significant change.
The announcement of his surprise departure comes as the company reports a 14% increase in revenue to £35.3bn. It also says its customer base has risen from 120 million in 2003 to 260 million in March this year.
Sarin, who took over as chief executive in July 2003, has lead Vodafone into emerging markets, including Romania, Turkey and India, and has disposed of its businesses in Japan and Sweden. In Europe, Sarin increased revenues and reduced costs, as well as introducing new products.
Prior to joining Vodafone, Sarin was a non-executive director of The Gap Inc, The Charles Schwab Corporation and Cisco Systems. In July 2005, he was appointed to the court of directors at the Bank of England.
Colao joined Vodafone in 2006 and was previously chief executive of RCS Media Group in Milan, where he worked on media, telecommunications and industrial goods.
Vodafone has also announced that non-executive directors Michael Boskin and J¸rgen Scrempp will not be seeking re-election at its annual general meeting this year.