|Sir Chris Gent|
|Born||Christopher Charles Gent
10 May 1948 (age 68)
Beckenham, Kent, England
|Residence||Lambourn, Berkshire, England|
Kate, Lady Gent (m. 1999)
|Children||2 daughters (via 1st marriage)
2 sons (via 2nd marriage)
|Website||Official Site of GlaxoSmithKline|
Sir Christopher Charles Gent HonFREng (born 10 May 1948) is a British businessman, He is the former chief executive officer of Vodafone, a British multinational mobile phone company. Until 2015, he served as the non-exec chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, the world's fourth largest pharmaceutical company.
Born in 1948 in Bridgemary Hants, Gent was raised in Gosport, Hampshire. He attended Tenison's School, then a grammar school in Kennington. His father, who had served in the Royal Navy, died when he was at school. He is one of four brothers (Rod, Chris, Jeremy and Pete). While his school career was not a success, he became a leading light within the London Young Conservative Association. Contemporaries included Sir John Major. During this period he developed leadership skills and important connections. From 1977–79, he was Chairman of the Young Conservatives.Chris Gent remains a prominent Conservative.
He first worked for the National Westminster Bank in 1971 as a management trainee, then as a computer services manager at Schroders. In 1979 he became the Managing Director of Baric, a company owned by ICL and Barclays.
Gent was widely credited with transforming Vodafone from a small subsidiary of Racal, a British electronics company, into a global giant, and who engineered Vodafone's 178 billion pound ($212 billion) historic purchase of Germany's Mannesmann in 2000. He became its Managing Director in January 1985 and its chief executive officer (taking over from Sir Gerald Whent) in January 1997.
After retiring from Vodafone in July 2003, he was awarded the honorary title of Company's President for Life on his departure as a mark of his achievement in developing the company, until his resignation from that position in March 2006. The title carried no salary, nor any advisory responsibilities, but was a symbolic link to the business that few former chief executives are allowed to retain.
From October 2005 to October 2006 he served on the Tax Reform Commission, established by the then Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP.
Gent's reputation for sound executive judgement was called into question following his time as a non-exec at Lehman Brothers. Gent was one of four members of the compensation committee of the board at Lehman Brothers that authorised the payout for its failed CEO, Dick Fuld, who received $34 m in 2007 and $40.5 m in 2006.
In 2006 he was awarded an honorary degree (Doctor of Laws) from the University of Bath. He received a knighthood for his services to the telecoms industry in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours. He was also appointed as a HonFREng of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2004.
In March 2007 Gent called for a referendum on London's hosting of the 2012 Olympics. He was quoted as saying "I cannot see that the long-term economic benefit of hosting the Games outweighs the costs and the horrific burden on the taxpayer, particularly London rate-payers. The cost for them is going to be astronomically high."
Gent is an avid sports fan and enjoys golf, skiing and tennis. However, his real passion is cricket, having grown up next door to The Oval and he is well-known to travel long distances to attend matches. He famously instigated the deal with Airtouch whilst on his mobile phone at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Vodafone sponsored the England cricket team for many years until 2007. He married Kate in July 1999 in Wokingham and they have two sons. He has two daughters from a former marriage. He lives in Newbury in Berkshire.
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- Burkeman, Oliver (15 December 2003). "The Monday Interview: Christopher Gent". The Guardian.
- The Lex Column (2008-12-22). "Overpaid CEO award". Financial Times: 12.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
- Brunel University. "Christopher Gent, Honorary Graduates 2000". Brunel University.