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Vodafone yearly profits up, CEO to step down

LONDON, May 27  – Mobile phone giant Vodafone unveiled a 5.7-percent rise in operating profits on Tuesday and announced that chief executive Arun Sarin would step down at the end of July.

Sarin leaves after five years at the helm and will hand over the reins to deputy chief executive Vittorio Colao. Vodafone chairman John Bond said Sarin had done a “tremendous” job during his time in charge.

The news came as Vodafone reported its full-year figures, revealing adjusted operating profits of 10.1 billion pounds (12.7 billion euros, 19.9 billion dollars) for the 12 months to March 31.

Underlying pre-tax profits rose 2.0 percent to 8.93 billion, the group said in a statement.

India-born Sari, 53, joined Vodafone\’s board in 1999 and became chief executive in July 2003, enduring a rocky patch in 2006 when nearly 10 percent of shareholders voted against his re-election.

But the company has since outperformed profit forecasts, enjoying big revenue growth in fast-growing markets such as India and Turkey. In January, the firm revealed that most of its clients were now outside western Europe.

Sarin helped steer the firm, which sponsors England\’s cricketers, through the wreckage of the dotcom crash and has boosted its customer base from 120 million to 260 million globally.

“It has been a privilege to lead Vodafone for the last five years and to have been involved in the company for such a long time,” he said in a statement.

“I feel that I have accomplished what I set out to achieve, particularly in developing and implementing a new strategy.

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“I am very proud of what Vodafone and its 71,000 people have achieved and the good momentum we have in the marketplace.

“I know that the business is in capable hands with Vittorio Colao. Having worked with him for many years I know that he has the experience and vision to take Vodafone on to future success.”

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