Turnaround: Vittorio Colao has led Vodafone for the past 10 years
Vodafone’s boss is stepping down after steering it through a decade-long overhaul – and several customer service fiascos.
Vittorio Colao, 56, who is renowned for never having a plan B which his business can fall back on, yesterday revealed he would leave the telecoms group in October and be succeeded by finance chief Nick Read.
His departure will mark the end of an era at the company.
Duing the Italian’s leadership, Vodafone underwent a major reshuffle that saw it exit the US, sell minority stakes in a raft of foreign firms, merge its operations in India and establish a cables empire in Europe to challenge German giant Deutsche Telekom.
In that time the number of mobile customers it serves around the world nearly doubled, from 269m to 536m.
Yesterday the group said profits rose 38.9 per cent to £3.9billion for the year to March 31, despite sales falling 2.2 per cent to £40.1billion.
But shares tumbled by 4.3 per cent, or 8.82p, to 198.38p after investors discovered the news about Colao’s departure.
Colao said the time was right to move on after he sealed major deals this year that will once again reshape the FTSE 100 company.
They include its purchase of Liberty Global’s European cable networks and a merger of its Indian arm with a rival to create the country’s largest telecoms group.
‘The chapter Vodafone is now starting to write is completely new,’ Colao said. ‘It is the right time to start with a new, dedicated management team.’
Colao was born in Brescia, northern Italy. He has been at Vodafone for 18 years. After he was named boss in 2008 he set about reorganising the company, moving its headquarters from Newbury to London, and selling minority stakes in foreign rivals.
However, during his tenure Colao has also presided over embarrassing episodes which saw his company top Ofcom’s table of customer complaints and botch a computer systems update.
It was fined £4.6million in 2016 for mis-selling, inaccurate billing and handling complaints badly.
After leaving, the married father of two is expected to take time off. A keen cyclist, he lives in £3million townhouse in Kensington, West London.
His successor Read was described by analysts yesterday as a ‘safe pair of hands’.