The outgoing chairman of mobile phone giant Vodafone robustly defended its chief executive yesterday after shareholders expressed concerns over his leadership, writes Karen Attwood.
Arun Sarin has come under fire for poor judgment in the face of slowing revenues growth in the firm which in May announced losses of £14.9 billion after a £28 billion write down on the value of its assets.
Asked by shareholders when Mr Sarin would quit, Lord MacLaurin said: "There is no question of Arun Sarin stepping down from the company. He's not contemplating his resignation."
Lord MacLaurin denied the board was dysfunctional as suggested by shareholders meeting at the AGM in central London, following recent reports of boardroom spats.
"This board is united," he repeated several times. "The new team under Arun will continue to deliver. The board is totally behind Arun."
Since Mr Sarin, aged 51, took over the helm three years ago, the Footsie 100 index has risen 40 per cent but Vodafone shares have dropped five per cent.
While not commenting on his own future Mr Sarin pointed out the telecoms industry was changing quickly and Vodafone had changed its strategy.
Lord MacLaurin stepped down as chair yesterday to be replaced by former HSBC chief Sir John Bond. Several shareholders paid tribute to Lord MacLaurin's leadership.
Vodafone shareholders eventually re-elected Mr Sarin - but almost ten per cent voted against him at the annual general meeting.
Shares closed up 0.5p at 115.7.