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AT&T, the biggest US telecommunications group, confirmed that Marc Lefar, the chief marketing officer of its wireless unit which is in the midst of a rebranding programme, had resigned “a few weeks ago.”

The US carrier, which has begun rebranding the Cingular Wireless unit as AT&T, said Mr Lefar had resigned voluntarily “to do something different”. The company added, “We’re sorry to see him go, but respect his decision and wish him well.”

AT&T emphasised that other executives were leading the rebranding effort and said Mr Lefar’s departure, “will in no way slow down the pace of re-branding.

“In fact, re-branding is going quite well and we plan to begin the next phase of the re-branding campaign in the coming weeks,” AT&T said.

Since taking the job three years ago, Mr Lefar had played an important role in developing the Cingular brand, including folding the former AT&T Wireless operations into Cingular after Cingular acquired AT&T Wireless in 2004.

AT&T’s decision to rebrand Cingular following the $68bn purchase of BellSouth, its joint venture partner in Cingular Wireless, has proved controversial since it was announced earlier this year.

Some marketing experts have argued that the move is premature and does not make sense given the substantial investment made over the past five years in the Cingular brand.

However senior AT&T executives, including those in charge of the rebranding, have countered that the old AT&T brand is one of the most recognised in the US and that it is safeguarding its previous investment by conducting the rebranding in phases.

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