Vodafone CEO Exits Stage Left

He came, he saw, he returned the company to profitability, and now he leaves. Vodafone Group PLC, the world’s largest cell phone company by sales, announced the surprise resignation of chief executive Arun Sarin on Tuesday as it posted its latest numbers, according to The Associated Press.

Sarin was at Vodafone for five years, but faced investor dissatisfaction two years ago when about 10 percent of shareholders voted against his re-election amid pressure to spin off the company’s stake in Verizon Wireless.

Still, the company more than doubled its customer base to a staggering 260 million subscribers during Sarin’s tenure—for comparison, that’s 10 million more subscribers than exist in the entire United States (across all four major carriers and all the smaller networks).

In a conference call, Sarin, 53, said he felt the timing was right to hand over as the company is in a good position strategically. “I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve when I took the position.” His deputy, the Italian-born Vittorio Colao, 46.