On the day Vodafone announced its 2017 numbers, group CEO Vittorio Colao revealed his last day in the office will be 1 October 2018.
There doesn’t seem to be any juicy gossip behind the move, he has presumably just decided to spend more time with his cash, having spent a decade in charge. Vodafone also announced a succession plan that will see CFO Nick Read take the reins and Deputy CFO Margherita Della Valle filling his shoes.
“On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our gratitude to Vittorio for an outstanding tenure,” said Vodafone Group Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee. “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. Vittorio will leave as his legacy a company of great integrity with strong inclusive values that is exceptionally well-positioned for the decade ahead.
“Nick has been the co-architect of the Group’s strategy together with Vittorio, combining extensive international operational and commercial leadership with world-class financial acumen. I am confident Vodafone will benefit greatly from his experience, insight and wisdom in his new role as Group Chief Executive. Margherita has a strong track record in financial leadership at the highest levels, and I am delighted to welcome her to the Board. I would also add that the appointment of Nick and Margherita serves as a testament to the strength and depth of the Vodafone senior leadership team that Vittorio has assembled and led over the last decade.”
Colao seems to be leaving on a moderate high, with 2017 numbers revealing a 15% increase in operating profit despite a 2% fall in revenues. This appears to be down to good old efficiencies such as replacing call centre staff with bots. Vodafone’s shares were down three percent at time of writing, which probably reflects uncertainty surrounding the changing of the guard.
“This was a year of significant operational and strategic achievement and strong financial performance,” said Colao. “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. As a result, underlying EBITDA grew 7.9%.
“We expect to sustain our profit growth in the year ahead, despite the arrival of a new entrant in Italy and competitive pressure in Spain, supported by the third year in a row of lower net operating costs. 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.”