Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bonfire of the Vanities

Like a politician caught in a sex scandel, Vodafone must dread Sunday newspapers at the moment. Today the "broadsheets" all have placed Vodafone on the front page of their Business sections.

The Observer has a piece on the plot to oust boss of Vodafone and "Big beasts fight it out for soul of Vodafone". Over the two storries we have an insight into how Arun Sarin, the Vodafone CEO, is fighting to establish himself following his appointment and how he has been unable to impress the city.

The Independent tells us that Penny Hughes will leave the board after eight years as a Non Executive Director. She is pictured as another victim of the power struggle between Arun and out going Chairman Lord MacLaurin. As a footnote they tell us that the board are also looking at the sale of its American opperation to partner Verizon, but new CFO Andy Halford is sceptical.

The Telegraph pitches the story differently saying that Lord MacLaurin has been forced to back Arun by releasing a statement backing the embattled chief. They go on to say that the statement is likely to be seen by the City as a triumph for Sarin in his bid to stamp his authority on the board.

Then a look at the Sunday Times tells us that Lord MacLaurin has just come back from a ten day break and is not happy with what he has missed. Did he not take his phone with him so that others could call and inform him of just how bad things have got. He is "incandescent" that others in the company are briefing against him and his reputation has been damaged. They also say that he has meeting with five of the biggest investors tomorrow all of whom will be asking for the CEO's head.

This is better entertainment that any soap operas. We have seen over the past few weeks more and more turn on Vodafone. Is the business itself in crisis or is it the share price that has been in difficulty at a time when the business needs investment?

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