Vodafone chief ousts head of marketing

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Arun Sarin, Vodafone’s embattled chief executive, moved to tighten his grip on the mobile operator’s board on Wednesday with the removal of its head of marketing and product development.

The departure of Peter Bamford follows persistent reports of boardroom tension and means Mr Sarin has cleared the board of all the senior executives most closely associated with his predecessor, Sir Christopher Gent.

Vodafone said it was “undertaking a fundamental review of the group marketing function”. It did not elaborate on its new marketing strategy or name a successor to Mr Bamford, who will receive almost £800,000 in compensation.

The move comes amid reports that Sir Christopher tried to challenge Mr Sarin’s re-election to the board, and signs of tension between Mr Sarin and Lord MacLaurin, who will hand over the chairmanship to Sir John Bond in July.

Investors are awaiting details of a new strategic direction for the group after Mr Sarin has made a series of moves to break with its previous global strategy.

In the past week he has announced the company is in discussions to sell most of its Japanese business to SoftBank and wrote down up to £28bn of goodwill associated with acquisitions made at the top of the market.

Yesterday, Mr Sarin defended Vodafone’s growth prospects, saying: “When I hear that people . . . say that this is now a mature market, the bubble is over, that we are in a deflationary business – I don’t agree.”

Pressure on Mr Sarin has intensified since November, when Vodafone issued the first of three profit warnings.

Since then its shares have lagged the FTSE 100 index by 25 per cent.

Vodafone’s shares closed down 1¼p at 122½p.

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