Yanks taking over… Brits get out


It has been quite obvious that the British companies need a serious makeover. And last week they got what is the corporate equivalent of the hit BBC show, Changing Rooms. (Okay the Learning Channel did copy this one). First Arun Sarin, a less known telecom executive was named the new chief executive of the phonezilla, Vodafone, and then Lloyds hired a yank to run the shop.

A friend of mine email from UK and pointed out that the British press is not taking the news quite as well. Of course they are all about writing interesting copy and not looking at subjects in a clear and analytical manner. it must have irked them no end that an Indian-American no less is taking over their only claim to any sort of technological leadership.

The Times of London writes, “While the 48-year-old Indian-American is well respected by peers, he is best known to the outside world for the size of his pay packet. Three years ago, when he was last a Vodafone employee, Mr Sarin earned £21.2 million. That year he made a £16.7 million profit on share options, whose value had soared as Vodafone?s share price took off during the internet bubble. Even today Mr. Sarin holds more shares in Vodafone than Sir Christopher Gent, the outgoing chief. As well as a holding of 4.8 million common shares, he owns five million options that exercise at a price of 112.6p. If the shares spurt up once again, these options will be worth a fortune.” The lefty rag, Independent also chimed in with its story on the subject, Fresh pay row looms after Sarin appointment

Well compare that with what Michael Capellas is getting from the bankrupt WorldCom (about $5 million a year or so) I think Vodafone is getting a bargain. According to The Times the 48-year-old Sarin will “join Vodafone’s executive committee on April 1 next year as the chief executive designate. He is currently a non-executive director of Vodafone, as well as having non-executive roles with Charles Schwab, Cisco Systems and Gap. He was previously president and chief operating officer of AirTouch Communications until 1999 and then became Vodafone’s chief executive of the Americas and Asia region until 2000. In 2001 he joined Accel-KKR, the telecoms investment business, where he oversaw the acquisition of Bell Canada’s Yellow Pages business.”

“You can’t imagine how silly the press is on him. The Guardian called him Asian-born (never once mentioned that he’s an American). The Times, shocked, noted the looked-over number two at Vodafone, a man with a hyphened-Brit twit name Horn-Smith was “highly capable”, and on and on. No one seemed to grasp Vodafone has U.S. needs.” my friend emailed me. I agree and I told BBC Radio as much when they interviewed my last week about the news.

Still the Colonial habits die hard; but from my point Vodafone had no option – the close knit corporate world of England is as irrelevant as the country itself. They all need to wake-up and realize the Sun has set on the empire!

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