NACD - National Association of Corporate Directors

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao to Depart After a Decade

Vodafone Group PLC Chief Executive Vittorio Colao has announced he will be leaving his post after reshaping the world's second-largest mobile carrier by subscribers over the last decade, reports the Wall Street Journal (May 15, Calatayud). The move comes less than one week after the U.K. telecommunications giant took the wraps off a $23 billion deal to acquire operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic from John Malone's Liberty Global. That purchase would create a continental behemoth that sells the industry's vaunted "quad-play" package: cable, Internet, wireless, and landline-phone service on one bill. The 56-year-old Colao took the reins as chief executive of Vodafone in 2008. He will be succeeded by CFO Nick Read on Oct. 1.

BBC News (May 15) credits Colao with transforming Vodafone from a consumer-focused 2G/3G mobile operator to one with global leadership in the "Internet of Things." During the past 10 years, its customer base has doubled from 269 million to 536 million in 25 countries. Vodafone Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee stated, "On behalf of the board, I would like to express our gratitude to Vittorio for an outstanding tenure. He has been an exemplary leader and strategic visionary who has overseen a dramatic transformation of Vodafone."

Not surprisingly, Reuters (May 15, Ponthus) states, Colao's announcement hit shares in Vodafone and held back Britain's leading stocks index on Tuesday morning. Accendo Markets analyst Artjom Hatsaturjants weighed in with an early reaction. "With positive results across the board," he remarked, "one would expect markets to react by buying the shares. And yet investors are clearly taking a dimmer view about