Vittorio Colao, the man who played a crucial role in building the Vodafone (VOD) empire, will end his 10-year-long career with the company this year. Colao steps down as the CEO at a time when the company is entering a new phase of expansion in the global communications sphere.
After being dragged by the company’s downbeat earnings guidance earlier, Vodafone shares lost further in the early hours Tuesday on the Nasdaq stock exchange and traded down 4%.
Colao aggressively followed the policy of growing through strategic deals, after taking the reins of the British telecom giant more than a decade ago, with the latest being the $21.8-billion buyout of Liberty Global’s (LBTYA) cable TV and broadband networks in Europe.
In the words of Vodafone chairman Gerard Kleisterlee: “Colao had been an exemplary leader and strategic visionary who has overseen a dramatic transformation of Vodafone.”
Vodafone’s growing asset portfolio creates a comfortable platform for the new CEO Nick Read to operate when he takes office after Colao’s departure in October. Margherita Della Valle, who has been Read’s deputy, will be replacing him as the finance director.
It is believed the leadership change would not affect the company’s market value and investors’ confidence, given Read’s impressive track record in overseeing the operations in Europe and emerging markets. Meanwhile, Read in a statement expressed his commitment to taking his predecessor’s vision forward, focusing on organic development, digital transformation and customer experience.
As the CEO of Vodafone, Colao aggressively followed the policy of growing through strategic deals
Read, who joined Vodafone in 2001, also served on the boards of the company’s African and Qatari arms, and subsidiaries in India and Egypt.
Under Colao’s leadership, Vodafone sold its 45% stake in Verizon’s (VZ) wireless business in the US for a whopping $130 billion in 2013, in one of the biggest deals the corporate world has ever witnessed.
In the fourth quarter, Vodafone reported a 1.4% growth in organic service revenues, above expectations. Reflecting its concerns over pricing in key markets and increasing competition in Europe, the company was a bit cautious with its outlook for fiscal 2019 and guided organic core earnings below the 2018 levels.