Vodafone CEO steps down after a decade as profits return

Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao is to step down from the company following a decade in charge of the UK operator.

Colao, who will leave his post later this year, has helped Vodafone survive challenges in the European market, transforming it from a pure-play mobile provider into a firm focused on converged networks thanks to the multi-billion ‘Project Spring’ network investment programme and the construction and acquisitions of superfast broadband networks.

This includes last week's deal with Liberty Global for Vodafone to acquire cable networks in Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary

Colao will be replaced by current Group CFO Nick Read, who in turn will be succeeded by his deputy Margherita Della Valle.

“[Colao] 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,” declared Vodafone Group Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee. 


The announcement came as Vodafone reported a €2.8 billion profit for the financial year, a substantial increase from the €6 billion it lost last year due a write down in the value of its Indian network.

Data traffic across all territories is up 61 per cent thanks to more generous bundles and lower prices, particularly in India, as the average user now consume an average 2.9GB a month. Vodafone claims 92 per cent of all data sessions are now at least 3Mbps and hopes IoT and zero rating add-ons will offset any decline in traditional revenue caused by the popularity of SIM-Only and Multi-SIM deals.

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. It has 4.5 million ‘converged’ customers and all figures increase if the Vodafone-Ziggo joint-venture is taken into account. Fixed revenues now account for a quarter of Vodafone’s income.

In the UK, service revenue fell 8.1 per cent to €6.1 billion, although Vodafone says that with constant exchange rates this would only have been 3.6 per cent. Mobile revenue is €4.6 billion, while fixed revenue is €1.5 billion.

“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 [Next Generation Networks] 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.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.