CEO of Vodafone steps down after a decade

CEO of Vodafone steps down after a decade

CEO of Vodafone steps down after a decade

Vodafone has announced that Nick Read, now the group's CFO, will succeed Vittorio Colao has the group's chief executive on October 1.

At the firm's annual general meeting on July 27, Deputy CFO Margherita Della Valle will succeed Read as CFO and will join the board, while Read will become CEO-designate.

Analysts said the timing of the departure should come as no surprise and that investors should be reassured by Read's appointment due to his experience running its British operations and the emerging market assets. The mobile customer base doubled from 269 million to 536 million during his tenure, and the company added almost 20 million broadband customers.

Read was appointed chief financial officer, joining the Vodafone board in 2014 and had previously served as the group chief executive for the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region.

Colao's decade as CEO at Vodafone has been mostly characterised by sales to clean up a sprawling global network of businesses and stakes in telecom companies that he inherited from his predecessor Arun Sarin in July 2008.

The announcement comes on the same day Vodafone released its financial results for the year, showing a €2.8bn profit, up from a €6bn loss in 2017.

Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee said Colao had been an "exemplary leader and strategic visionary who has overseen a dramatic transformation of Vodafone".

This has led to a mixed full year to 31 March 2018 operating performance, although one that looks pretty decent overall.

"Our sustained investment in network quality supported robust commercial momentum; we added a record number of fixed NGN [next-generation network] and converged customers in Q4, mobile data usage continues to grow strongly and we grew both revenues and margins in enterprise, despite roaming headwinds, and continued to reduce operating costs". "As a result, underlying EBITDA grew 7.9 per cent". That is impressive given how much fierce competition, regulation and the growth of messaging services such as Facebook's WhatsApp have dragged on Vodafone and peers in the past decade. "It is the right time.to start with a new dedicated management team".

This includes last week's deal with Liberty Global for Vodafone to acquire cable networks in Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary.

Despite this, Philip Carse, analyst at Megabuyte, described Vodafone's United Kingdom operation as "the sick man of Europe" as service revenue locally dropped 3.6 per cent to €6.1bn versus comparative growth in other big country ops.

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