Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Vodafone boardroom bust-ups overshadow US speculation

Computer Business Review writes about the boardroom and investor problems facing Vodafone, and its embattled CEO Arun Sarin.

Key investors are complaining about its global strategy while some on the Board, including former CEO, Sir Christopher Gent, are angered by Vodafones's recent "asset write-off, where between 23bn and 28bn pounds ($40bn and $48.7bn) was wiped off from the value of Vodafone's assets, mostly related to its $188bn takeover of the German conglomerate Mannesmann AG six years ago."

Phil Kendall at Strategy Analytics said, "Sarin is actually taking a lot of flak for decisions made five years ago. It could be that Gent is also angered by Sarin's willingness to consider exiting Vodafone's crown jewels, namely its assets in the US and Japan."

Kendall argued that "Vodafone was too isolated in the Japanese market, but that Vodafone does tend to do very well in the mature markets, where it is mostly a leading player." He said, "Vodafone stands out over fellow 3G operators in mature markets."

Regarding Vodafone's potential sale in the US of its 45 percent stake in Verizon back to Verizon, Kendall believed thwas good for Sarin and the company. However, Kendall warned that "Vodafone faces a potential 5bn pounds ($8.68bn) corporate gains tax if it offloads the US stake, which it will have to factor into any purchase price."