Vodafone’s CEO announces his departure less than a week after making $22 billion deal with ‘cable cowboy’ John Malone

Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Group, gestures as he speaks during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018.

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Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Group, gestures as he speaks during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018.
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Reuters/Denis Balibouse

  • Long-serving Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao is to step down in October this year.
  • He will be succeeded by the telecoms firm’s current chief financial officer, Nick Read.
  • The announcement of Colao’s departure comes less than a week after Vodafone announced a $22 billion deal with Liberty Global.

LONDON -Vodafone announced on Tuesday that long-serving CEO Vittorio Colao will step down later this year.

Colao, who has been at the helm of the British-based firm for a decade, will stand down in October and will be replaced by Nick Read, Vodafone’s current finance director. No reason was given for Colao’s departure.

“Vittorio will leave as his legacy a company of great integrity with strong inclusive values that is exceptionally well-positioned for the decade ahead,” Vodafone’s chairman Gerard Kleisterlee said in a statement.

Colao’s legacy includes pulling the company out of the USA by abandoning a joint venture with American telecoms giant Verizon and striking a $22 billion deal with the world’s biggest international TV and broadband company, Liberty Global.

That deal was only announced last Wednesday, and if approved by competition authorities, will see Vodafone take control of Liberty Global’s operations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania. Liberty Global is controlled through voting rights by US billionaire John Malone, the media and telecoms executive nicknamed the “cable cowboy” due to his extensive TV and telecoms dealmaking activity in the 1990s.

The Vodafone-Liberty Global deal comes during a flurry of activity in the telecoms and media industry. Comcast is currently locked in a bidding war with 21st Century Fox for European pay-TV group Sky and Comcast is said to be considering gate-crashing Fox’s transaction with Disney.

Vodafone runs internet and mobile businesses across 25 countries, including the UK and India. The company has over 500 million mobile customers globally and close to 20 million broadband customers.

Alongside the announcement of Colao’s departure, the firm released a solid set of financial results, reporting a 1.4% rise in organic service revenue for its fourth quarter, beating analyst forecasts of a 1.1% rise.