Vodafone's Colao to step down

Vodafone's Colao to step down

Vodafone (VOD) leads the FTSE 100 fallers list on Tuesday after reporting typically complex annual results and on the surprising news that chief executive officer (CEO) Vittorio Colao is to leave after 10 years running the business.

For Read it's a "step-up" role, after a good track record at Vodafone, said James Ratzer, a telecom analyst at New Street Research in London.

Colao steps down after just over 10 years in the job, during which he has transformed Vodafone from a pure mobile player into a converged operator owning multiple cable and fibre networks. The merger announced previous year 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.

His replacement, Read, became Vodafone's CFO in April 2014, having previously worked as the group's chief executive for the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region.

Data traffic on network of Vodafone India increased four fold but the company could not reap financial benefits because of sharp decline in data prices.

"Nick has been the co-architect of the Group's strategy together with Vittorio, combining extensive global operational and commercial leadership with world-class financial acumen", Gerard Kleisterlee, Chairman of Vodagone Group Plc, said in a statement.

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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.

He said: "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".

In a separate statement, Vodafone updated investors on its full-year performance, posting a 15.4-percent rise in operating profit to €4.3 billion, while also disclosing a 2.2-percent fall in total revenue to €46.6 billion.

With fierce competition in the UK from Sky (SKY), and EE strengthened BT (BT.A) and Virgin Media, 'Vodafone UK is playing catch up, ' believes Megabuyte's Carse. "As a result, underlying EBITDA grew 7.9 per cent".

But the group last week agreed to buy cable group Liberty Global's German and eastern European assets for 18.4 billion euros including debt.

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

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