Vodafone: Call new CEO maybe

Vodafone: Call new CEO maybe

From the group's AGM in June already, Read will become CEO designate, while deputy CFO Margherita Della Valle will become group CFO and join the board of directors.

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

Total revenue fell 2.2% €46.6bn, reflecting foreign exchange headwinds and the negative impact from the deconsolidation of Vodafone Netherlands following the creation of the VodafoneZiggo joint venture with Liberty Global.

Mr Colao, who previously ran Vodafone's Italian business before being appointed chief executive in 2008, will be replaced by the FTSE 100 firm's chief financial officer Nick Read.

"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", Colao said.

"This was a year of significant operational and strategic achievement and strong financial performance", said Colao.

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The reduction in mobile termination rates added to the woes of the 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". He led the company for more than a decade.

Vodafone's earnings announcement on Thursday pointed to other challenges ahead for Read, as the company battles low-end price competition in Spain and prepares for the entry of Iliad's discount carrier in Italy.

Organic service revenue - what Vodafone gets from customers' plans and traffic on its networks excluding handset sales - rose 1.4% in the three months to 31 March, compared to growth of 1% forecast by the average of five estimates compiled by Bloomberg. With positive results across the board, one would expect markets to react by buying the shares, and yet investors are clearly taking a dimmer view about the company's prospects with the CEO of 10 years on his way out.

"It really is an opportunity to elevate what we offer for our customers", Read said to reporters.

"The chapter Vodafone is starting to write is completely different", he said.

"I'm going to be working flat out until October and then I will start thinking and evaluating options and alternatives", Colao said.

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