Vittorio Colao will step down from his position as chief executive of Vodafone in October this year after a decade at the helm of one of the world’s largest telecoms companies. He will hand over to Nick Read, chief financial officer since 2014, who has been groomed as the internal candidate to take over having held executive roles including head of the UK business and five years as chief executive of its African, Middle Eastern and Asian Pacific unit. Vodafone shares opened down 3 per cent after the news on Tuesday morning, at 200 pence.
The surprise decision by Mr Colao to stand down comes only days after the company sealed the €18bn takeover of Liberty Global’s German and eastern European cable companies, Vodafone’s biggest takeover since the turn of the century. It also comes ahead of the merger of its struggling Indian business with Idea Cellular, a move that is expected to complete in June. Gerard Kleisterlee, chairman of Vodafone, said Mr Colao’s tenure had been “outstanding”. “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,” he said.
The news accompanied full year results from Vodafone that showed revenue dipping 2.2 per cent to €46.6bn. Its service revenue rose 1.6 per cent driven, by broadband growth. Earnings before interest taxation, depreciation and amortisation grew 12 per cent to €15bn, beating its forecast, while free cash flow was €5.6bn hitting its promise to exceed €5bn. – FT