Vodafone chief Vittorio Colao to step down

Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read

Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read

"Good news is that we have got 10 million customer in last quarter but there is a price to be paid for this success", Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said.

Its mobile customers have nearly doubled since he took over to 500m, meaning only China Mobile has more.

Following the news, shares in Vodafone fell nearly 4 per cent.

Colao regime took major decision to merge Vodafone India with Aditya Birla Group firm Idea Cellular for sustenance of the two debt-ridden firm amid intense tariff war in India.

"The chapter Vodafone is starting to write is completely different", he said.

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

Mr Read will be replaced by deputy chief financial officer Margherita Della Valle on July 27, which is the date of Vodafone's annual shareholder meeting. Vodafone said the appointments followed an internal and external search for candidates.

Yet Vodafone's share price, which is 6.5 percent below its early February level when the deal was first reported, implies investors are anxious that antitrust concessions from Brussels will delay or slash the benefits of the deal.

Vodafone - the world's second-biggest mobile phone operator by subscribers after China Mobile - last week announced a deal worth 18.4 billion euros for some of Liberty's European assets.

For Colao, what life after Vodafone will look like hasn't been decided, he said.

"I think now is the time to really focus on our organic plan, really focusing on digital transformation of our business and the customer experience", he told reporters. "Vodafone India has been classified as discontinued operations for Group reporting purposes", Vodafone said.

"In addition, we agreed the merger of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel, allowing Vodafone to own a significant co-controlling stake in India's largest listed tower company".

One area that remains to be tackled is Britain, Vodafone's home market where it languishes in third place behind BT's EE and Telefonica's O2. The latter fell 2.8 percent. EBITDA also saw a boost, by 11.8 per cent £12.9 billion (€14.7bn).

Looking ahead, Vodafone expects to grow adjusted organic Ebitda by 1% to 5%, excluding the impact of United Kingdom handset financing in both years, and the significant benefit in the prior year from regulatory settlements in the United Kingdom and a legal settlement in Germany. She joined Omnitel Pronto Italia - which later became Vodafone Italy - in 1994 and held various consumer marketing positions in business analytics and customer base management before moving to finance.

A keen cyclist, the tall Colao has lived a quiet life in London, largely avoiding London's corporate social scene.

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