Vodafone Chair Reiterates Sarin Support

A vote demonstrates significant shareholder dismay, but Lord MacLaurin claims the board is "totally behind" the CEO

Vodafone has revealed the full results from its AGM yesterday, with around 18 per cent of shareholders either voting against or abstaining on a proposition to re-elect current CEO Arun Sarin to the board.

Of the 33.5 million votes cast, there were 3.7 million against the propositions and 2.2 million abstentions. A number of institutional investors voted against the re-election citing concerns over Sarin's strategic leadership.

The results of the vote send a clear message of shareholder dissatisfaction over both the board and Sarin's performance - and the weak share price. One shareholder even dubbed the board a "board of charlatans" and said it is "dysfunctional".

Vodafone's chairman Lord MacLaurin hit out at the claims and reiterated the board's support for Sarin.

He said: "The board is not dysfunctional. The board has always been united... the board is totally behind Arun going forward."

MacLaurin did however acknowledge that all top execs had been rocked by the recent turbulent period in Vodafone's history. "The last six months have not been the easiest... We all seem to have been somewhat in the firing line," he added.

Vodafone's chairman also hinted the door had not been closed on the sale of the company's 45 per cent stake in US mobile operator Verizon Wireless, saying the company was happy with Verizon Wireless' prospects and Vodafone's stake in it.

He told shareholders: "If however we receive a compelling offer for our stake, we will always consider what is in the best interest for our shareholders."

MacLaurin stepped down from his role of chairman at the end of the meeting, handing the baton to Sir John Bond, former chairman of HSBC.