Vodafone promotes CFO Read to succeed Colao as CEO

Vittorio Colao chief executive officer of Vodafone

On the day Vodafone announced its 2017 numbers, group CEO Vittorio Colao revealed his last day in the office will be 1 October 2018. Vodafone said that the company had been transformed by him from a consumer-focused 2G/3G mobile operator to one with global leadership in the "Internet of Things".

The 56-year-old Italian said that the time was right to move on with most of the "reshaping" of Vodafone now complete following the recent spate of deals. The merger, announced a year ago, of Vodafone's unit in India with Idea, created to let the two combat a raging price war in the world's second largest mobile phone market, is also awaiting final approvals. As a result, Read will be named as group chief-executive designate at the telecoms giant's annual general meeting on 27 July - presaging a period of transition at the top.

Read has been CFO since April 2014 and was previously CEO for the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region. He joined Vodafone in 2001 as Vodafone UK finance director before being appointed Vodafone UK CCO then Vodafone UK chief executive.

Gerard Kleisterlee, chairman of Vodafone, said Colao's tenure had been "outstanding". The deal to acquire Liberty Global's German and Eastern European businesses allows Colao to leave having mostly solved years of on-and-off talks with billionaire John Malone's cable company about a potential tie-up to better compete with incumbents like Deutsche Telekom.

"He has been an exemplary leader and strategic visionary who has overseen a dramatic transformation of Vodafone".

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Revenues in the year to March dipped 2.2pc to €46.6bn, which Vodafone blamed on the completion of a joint venture with Virgin Media owner Liberty Global in the Netherlands and foreign exchange movements.

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

"Our sustained investment in network quality supported robust commercial momentum: we added a record number of fixed [Next Generation Networks] 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".

Looking ahead, Vodafone expects to grow adjusted organic Ebitda by 1% to 5%, excluding the impact of United Kingdom handset financing in both years, and the significant benefit in the prior year from regulatory settlements in the United Kingdom and a legal settlement in Germany.

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