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Business

Ex-Vodaphone Head Testifies in Mannesmann Trial

In Germany's first ever criminal trial over executive pay, the former CEO of Vodaphone, Chris Gent, testified on Thursday that he did not discuss bonuses with Mannesmann's former chief executive Klaus Esser during takeover talks. Gent was the figure behind Vodaphone's €154 billion ($188 billion) takeover of Mannesmann in 2000. Prosecutors allege that bonuses in the millions paid to former Mannesmann executives were excessive and amounted to bribes to overcome resistance to the Vodaphone takeover. Esser received a bonus of €16 million. Six former Mannesmann executives are now on trial; all deny any wrongdoing. "Never once were severance payments or retention payments mentioned by Esser or myself before his agreement to the takeover," Gent told the court in Düsseldorf on Thursday. A five-judge panel will hold a meeting with prosecutors and defense attorneys next Wednesday to assess the proceedings thus far.