Vodafone Earnings Growth Above Guidance; CEO Colao To Depart

Vittorio Colao of Vodafone Group

Good morning: After more than a decade at the top, Vittorio Colao has announced that he is standing down as group chief executive of Vodafone.

Read, a Briton educated at a state school, will be replaced by his deputy since 2015, Margherita Della Valle, an Italian who joined the group in 1994.

Vodafone now has 16.1 million broadband customers, of which 9.9 million are fibre or cable, while it also has 9.9 million TV customers.

By creating India's largest telecoms operator, Vodafone is seeking to reverse its troubled fortunes in the country, where the company's revenue slumped 18.7 percent during its last financial year.

Since becoming CEO in 2008, 56-year-old Colao has been integral in Vodafone's growth into one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world. She was previously Group Chief Financial Controller, Chief Financial Officer for the Europe region, and Chief Financial Officer for Vodafone Italy.

Vodafone group chairman Gerard Kleisterlee said: "I would like to express our gratitude to Vittorio for an outstanding tenure".

Vodafone also announced full-year results for the period ending 31 March 2018.

Last week Vodafone struck a $21.8 billion deal to buy Liberty Global's cable TV and broadband networks in Germany and other markets to strengthen its business in Europe, where 35 percent of its proforma revenue came from fixed line a year ago.

In fact, Colao has been working with Vodafone for last two decades.

Having finally sealed what looks like a significant and strategically beneficial European cable network deal with Liberty Global, Vodafone now looks to be in a far stronger position in a converged digital communications future. "Our sustained investment in network quality supported robust commercial momentum: we added a record number of fixed NGN 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".

Germany, Vodafone's largest territory, grew 2.3 per cent to €10.84bn, the United Kingdom was up 2.2 per cent €7.07bn and Italy grew 1.7 per cent to €6.2bn.

The announcement comes less than a week after Vodafone unveiled a deal to turn it into Europe's largest cable and broadband operator by buying assets from USA peer Liberty Global.

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

A year ago, it made a loss of 6.1bn euros (£5.4bn) after taking a 4.5 bn euro charge for merging its India operations with Idea.

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