Arun Sarin, Vodafone’s embattled chief executive yesterday lived to fight another day, although the doubts about his future still lurk.

The mobile phone market is tough. Prices are falling, Wi-Max will enable broadband internet access while you are out and the potential for VoiP over mobile threatens to undermine the industry business model. Expectations are just not what they used to be.

Even so, suggest the doubters, Sarin should do better. Many want him out.

But yesterday, at the AGM, rebellious shareholders made up just 9.5% of those voting, and with 4.5 percent abstaining, Sarin got away with it all rather lightly in the end.

But while it was hot outside yesterday, Sarin and allies were forces to sweat for different reasons.

One shareholders described the management team as a “board of charlatans” and while Vodafone’s outgoing chairman Lord MacLaurin tried to create the impression of a united board, saying “There is absolutely no question of Arun Sarin stepping down from this company”, his replacement, Sir John Bond said “Wherever you work in the world, the performance of management is constantly under review.”

Even Sarin’s pay is coming under tighter scrutiny than ever. The man at Vodafone who is responsible for independently reviewing the pay for Sarin and other top management is none other than Luc Vandevelde, the man who once known at lucky Luc, but whose halo took a nasty dent after he was ousted as Chairman of MS before the replacement management turned the company around. Yesterday, he was jeered at, and 20 percent of shareholders present voted against his remuneration policy, a policy which had softened targets for bonuses because of the tougher business climate

But, for the time being at least, Sarin is safe. but, one more crisis or one more mistake and the knives will be out.

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© Investment & Business News 2013