Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ovum: Gent leaves Vodafone, but the circus is staying in town

Robin Hearn at Ovum writes about the resignation of Sir Christopher Gent "from his position as Life President of Vodafone, an honorary title bestowed on him in recognition of his role in creating the company."
While there is a lot of conjecture surrounding the company and its CEO Arun Sarin, hearn writes:

Gent's position may have been purely symbolic, but it is strange to think of a Vodafone without him. After all, it was he who propelled it to global eminence, and the two names still run hand in hand. However, the market today is not like it was then. It is no longer an uncharted frontier where the fearless could ride into the unknown in search of bigger and bigger game. Now it's all about the numbers. Which is exactly why Gent first stepped aside for Arun Sarin in July 2003, when Vodafone needed to make a cohesive group from the spoils he had bagged.
Hearn doesn't analyze Sarin's performance at the helm of Vodafone, and writes "the job of bringing all those disparate elements of the Vodafone empire together in an increasingly competitive and challenging climate has been much more difficult than any of the Vodafone management, now or then, would have ever thought." Hearn concludes with:
So then, Arun Sarin clearly likes a challenge. And just in case he needed another one, his job has been made that bit more difficult over the past couple of weeks by perpetual reports of boardroom struggle and strife. Last week's departure of Peter Bamford, the chief marketing officer, has added fuel to this fire, along with the imminent departures of Sir Julian Horn-Smith and Lord MacLaurin himself [from the Board]. Some are saying that Sarin is leading a purge of the old guard, and of course the departure of Gent, the spiritual leader of the group, could be seen as the ultimate prize. But we're slightly more circumspect. We do not yet know what to expect of Lord MacLaurin's replacement, John Bond, and we certainly do not know how his relationship with Arun Sarin will develop over its first few months. This has some way to go yet, so take your seats.