Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao to step down in October

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao to step down in October

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao to step down in October

Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao will leave the company in October and be succeeded by chief financial officer Nick Read, the telecoms giant announced this morning.

"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", Vodafone Group Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee said.

"Now is the right time to begin the transition", Colao said on a call with reporters.

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.

"The overall improvement in Vodafone's fortunes over the last 10 years is less evident in the United Kingdom, the company's worst major European market, albeit that some of this reflects an inherently more competitive mobile market with four strong players", he added.

Chief financial officer Nick Read, 53, has been promoted to the top job, having been groomed as the preferred internal candidate.

Mobile service revenue fell 6.6 per cent to €30.6bn, and fixed service revenue went up marginally from €10.22bn to €10.4bn.

Total revenue for the year ended March 31 was down 2.2% to EUR46.57 billion, "primarily due to the deconsolidation of Vodafone Netherlands and FX movements". "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".

Organic adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) increased 11.8% to €14.7bn, beating the company's guidance for about 10% growth.

Organic service revenue was up 1.6%, with fourth quarter growth of 1.4%, showing good momentum in data, fixed/convergence and Enterprise.

The group said it expects underlying earnings to grow organically by between 1 per cent and 5 per cent in the new financial year.

Born in northern Italy, Colao cut his teeth as a management consultant at McKinsey before in 1996 he joined Omnitel Pronto Italia, which later became Vodafone Italy.

Colleagues say he enjoys the cut and thrust of talking to journalists and analysts, and will also happily discuss European politics and regulation.

His departure follows that of Martin Sorrell at WPP after 33 years in charge, meaning the FTSE 100 has lost two of its longest-serving CEOs in a short period of time.

He said the group's "strategic transformation is nearing completion", but said Vodafone was "starting to write a new chapter". "There is still a lot to do between now and October".

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