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Vodafone CEO Sarin stepping down

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LONDON (AP) -- Mobile phone company Vodafone PLC on Tuesday announced a return to full-year net profit from a loss the previous year, a

LONDON (AP) -- Mobile phone company Vodafone PLC on Tuesday announced a return to full-year net profit from a loss the previous year, and said chief executive Arun Sarin would step down at the end of July.

Sarin has held the top job for five years and will be replaced by his deputy, Vittorio Colao.

The departure of Indian-born Sarin, 53, came as a surprise to many. He faced disquiet two years ago, when nearly 10% of Vodafone shareholders voted against his re-election as chief executive.

But the company has since outperformed analysts' forecasts and enjoyed revenue growth in fast-growing markets such as India and Turkey.

Under his tenure, Vodafone's (VOD) customer base from 120 million to 260 million around the world.

Sarin said he "felt the timing was right to handover as the company is in a good position strategically."

"I've achieved what I set out to achieve when I took the position," Sarin said in a conference call.

Vodafone shares rose 2.1% on the London Stock Exchange.

Vodafone said net profit for the year to March 31 was $13.25 billion from a net loss of $9.69 billion a year earlier.

Impairment charges on Vodafone's Italian and German operations contributed to the loss last year. The move to net profit was driven by cost reduction and outsourcing programs in Western Europe.

Revenues increased 14% to $70.2 billion from $61.48 billion the year before. 

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