Vodafone’s Colao to step down

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The Board of global telco Vodafone Group has revealed the succession plan for the role of Group Chief Executive. Effective October 1st 2018, Vittorio Colao will be succeeded by Group Chief Financial Officer Nick Read. At the date of the Group’s Annual General Meeting on July 27th 2018, Deputy CFO Margherita Della Valle will succeed Read as Group Chief Financial Officer and will join the Board, and Read will become Group Chief Executive-Designate.

Colao was appointed Group Chief Executive in July 2008. During the decade under his leadership, Vodafone has been transformed from a consumer-focused 2G/3G mobile operator to one of the world’s leading converged communications companies with a diverse portfolio including the largest mobile and fixed next-generation network in Europe, a significant international enterprise division, and global leadership in the ‘Internet of Things’.

Over the last ten years, he has overseen a strategic reshaping of the Group, exiting minority shareholdings to focus on controlled and co-controlled assets while growing mobile customer numbers from 269 million to 536 million (plus 19.7 million broadband customers) over 25 countries, including significant businesses in India, Egypt, Turkey and across Africa.

Read was appointed Group Chief Financial Officer and joined the Vodafone Group Plc Board in April 2014. He was previously the Group’s Chief Executive for the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region and served as a board member of a number of Vodafone’s emerging markets subsidiaries including Vodacom Group and Vodafone India.

He joined Vodafone in 2001 as Vodafone UK Finance Director before being appointed Vodafone UK Chief Commercial Officer then Vodafone UK Chief Executive. Prior to joining Vodafone, Read held senior global finance positions with United Business Media Plc and Federal Express Worldwide.

Della Valle was appointed Deputy Group Chief Financial Officer in 2015. She was previously Group Chief Financial Controller, Chief Financial Officer for the Europe region, and Chief Financial Officer for Vodafone Italy. She joined Omnitel Pronto Italia – which later became Vodafone Italy – in 1994 and held various consumer marketing positions in business analytics and customer base management before moving to finance.

Vodafone Group Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee said: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our gratitude to Vittorio for an outstanding tenure. He has been an exemplary leader and strategic visionary who has overseen a dramatic transformation of Vodafone into a global pacesetter in converged communications, ready for the Gigabit future. Vittorio will leave as his legacy a company of great integrity with strong inclusive values that is exceptionally well-positioned for the decade ahead.”

“Nick has been the co-architect of the Group’s strategy together with Vittorio, combining extensive international operational and commercial leadership with world-class financial acumen. I am confident Vodafone will benefit greatly from his experience, insight and wisdom in his new role as Group Chief Executive. Margherita has a strong track record in financial leadership at the highest levels, and I am delighted to welcome her to the Board. I would also add that the appointment of Nick and Margherita serves as a testament to the strength and depth of the Vodafone senior leadership team that Vittorio has assembled and led over the last decade.”

The Vodafone Group Plc Board conducted a succession planning process that involved the detailed assessment of potential internal and external candidates.

News of the succession plan came as Vodafone reported its Full Year results. Group operating profit was up 15.4 per cent to €4.3 billion, with profit for the year of €2.8 billion, and total revenue down 2.2 per cent to €46.6 billion, primarily ascribed to to the deconsolidation of Vodafone Netherlands and FX movements.

“This was a year of significant operational and strategic achievement and strong financial performance,” noted Colao. “Our sustained investment in network quality supported robust commercial momentum: we added a record number of fixed NGN 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.”

“We have made good progress in securing approvals for the merger with Idea Cellular in India – which is expected to close imminently – and appointed the new management team, who will focus immediately on capturing the sizeable cost synergies. In addition, we agreed the merger of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel, allowing Vodafone to own a significant co-controlling stake in India’s largest listed tower company. And we announced last week the acquisition of Liberty Global’s cable assets in Germany and Central and Eastern Europe, transforming the Group into Europe’s leading next generation network owner and a truly converged challenger to dominant incumbents.”

“We expect to sustain our profit growth in the year ahead, despite the arrival of a new entrant in Italy and competitive pressure in Spain, supported by the third year in a row of lower net operating costs. Our primary focus continues to be to accelerate the ‘Digital Vodafone’ programme, which we believe is a unique opportunity to enhance our customers’ experience, generate incremental value and improve cost efficiency.”


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