Sarin, 53, decided to go out on a high note as Vodafone predicted its revenue for the year ahead would be between 39.8 billion and 40.7 billion pounds ($78.8 billion to $79.2 billion), with operating profit of 11 billion to 11.5 billion pounds ($21.8 billion to $22.8 billion).
"I have achieved what I set out to achieve on becoming CEO, and therefore I felt the timing was right," he said in a conference call. Born in India, the U.S. citizen ran Vodafone from its U.K. headquarters and had an unusual grasp of international mobile wireless markets.
He bought companies in emerging markets and sold them in mature markets, and when investors from Efficient Capital Structures mounted a campaign to sell Vodafone's 45% stake in the Verizon unit, he dug in his heels and defeated the attempt. The Verizon Wireless position has been a major contributor to Vodafone's profits.
"Sarin led the group through a series of acquisitions, mainly in less familiar emerging markets, including Romania and Turkey, but most notably India," said Jeremy Green, mobile director at business consultancy Ovum, in a statement. "At the same time Vodafone has disposed of interests in operators in more mature markets, including Belgium, Japan, Sweden, and Switzerland. The group has thus continued to deliver growth in the manner of a Californian surfer, tracking up and down the coast in search of wherever the best waves are breaking."
Vittorio Colao, Sarin's deputy, was named to take over the helm of Vodafone. Like Sarin, Colao has a strong international background. A native of Italy, Colao, 46, has an MBA from Harvard and has been a consultant at McKinsey.
Sarin indicated the company is still on the prowl for acquisitions in emerging markets and named Africa and Asia as regions of interest.
In a statement, Vodafone said: "The group continues to drive revenue growth, particularly in respect of its communication strategy for data and fixed broadband services and in emerging markets."