Sir Gerald Whent October 1988 - December 1996
Sir Christopher Gent
January 1997 - July 2003
July 2003 - July 2008
July 2008 - present
In a period just short of twenty years from its IPO, the Company had just three Chief Executives. The fourth CEO, Vittorio Colao, stepped up from Deputy Chief Executive in July 2008. Each of his predecessors made a personal contribution to the development of the Company.
Sir Gerald Whent, at that time an Executive with Racal Electronics Plc, was responsible for the bid for a UK Cellular Network licence. The Mobile Telecoms division was de-merged and was floated on the London Stock Exchange in October 1988 and Sir Gerald became Chief Executive of Racal Telecom Plc. Over the next few years the company grew to become the UK's Market Leader, changing its name to Vodafone Group Plc in the process.
Sir Christopher Gent took over as Chief Executive in January 1997 after Sir Gerald's retirement. Sir Christopher is responsible for transforming Vodafone from a small UK operator into the global behemoth that it is today, through the merger with the American AirTouch and the takeover of Germany's Mannesmann.
Arun Sarin was the driving force behind the Company's move into Emerging Markets such as Asia and Africa, through the purchases such as that of Turkish operator Telsim and a majority stake in Hutchison Essar in India. Faced with increased competition and penetration rates above 100% in the more mature European markets it was necessary to diversify from being a mobile-only business into a company which provided all telecommunications services. This has seen Vodafone launch DSL and other fixed-line services in markets such as Germany and the UK.