Vodafone’s new CEO has had to take back his promise on the dividend as the board cuts it for the first time since 1990 as international operations suffer and 5G costs mount.
Previously Nick Reid had said cost cuts, like selling off its towers, would mean it could retain its dividend. But the high cost of 5G spectrum in Germany and Italy, have hit Vodafone, along with poor performance in Italy, Spain and South Africa.
All this as the group completes the €18.4 billion deal to acquire Liberty Global cable assets in Germany and eastern Europe. At the end of March, Vodafone Group’s net debt stood at €27 billion. Its total annual revenue fell from €43.7 billon from €46.6 billion, recording a loss of €7.6 billion, compared to a net profit of €2.8 billion in 2018.
Meanwhile the merger in India between Vodafone Group and Idea Cellular hasn’t produced the results expected in terms of combatting the disruption of Jio.
Most recently Vodafone sold its New Zealand mobile business for NZ$3.4 billion (€1.999 billion) to a consortium of infrastructure investors; it had previously tried to sell this unit in 2017. But Vodafone’s attempted merger in in Australia with fixed-line player TPG Telecom was blocked by the regulator on the grounds it would reduce choice.