Virgin Mobile founder resigns after NTL deal

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Tom Alexander, the founder and chief executive of Virgin Mobile, is to leave the mobile phone group following its acquisition by NTL, the cable company, in July.

Mr Alexander, who created the concept of the mobile virtual network operator, or a virtual mobile service piggybacking on other mobile networks, said he had made the decision recently.

He said that he did not think of himself as a “corporate man” who could work as part of a large organisation. “It’s a great opportunity [for Virgin Mobile] but it would be different for me. It doesn’t suit me,” he said.

NTL, whose recommended offer for Virgin Mobile values the mobile group at £962m, had been hoping that Mr Alexander and his management team would stay on following the completion of the deal. The purchase will enable NTL to offer four services – fixed line and mobile telephony, internet, and pay-television – creating the UK’s first “quadruple play” offering.

The cable company, which has just merged with Telewest, has appointed Alan Gow, currently Virgin Mobile’s chief financial officer, as managing director of Virgin Mobile. Joe Steel, the mobile group’s commercial director, will continue in his current role. James Kydd, Virgin Mobile’s brand director, will become the cable group’s overall chief marketing officer.

Mr Alexander said that the cable group tried to persuade him to stay. “I have had loads and loads of discussions [with NTL]. I invented the business. It’s stamped with my personality.”

Mr Alexander, who is expected to make up to £5m from the NTL deal and is understood to have made about £12m when Virgin Mobile floated in 2004, will be retained as a consultant to the mobile operator for the rest of the year.

He said that he had not decided on what to do next and plans to take a few months’ break. He is understood to be under a six months non-compete agreement with NTL.

Virgin Mobile is scheduled to hold an extraordinary meeting next week. Charles Gurassa, the non-executive chairman, and other non-executive directors will step down upon the successful completion of the deal, which is expected on July 4.

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