Vodafone shares slide as chief executive Vittorio Colao to step down

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Vodafone Group has announced CEO Vittorio Colao is stepping down from October and will be succeeded by CFO Nick Read.

Colao was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the UK-based group in July 2008- nearly a year after Vodafone brand was launched in India.

After 10 years of stability under Colao, Vodafone is potentially setting sail into uncharted waters under the guidance of an executive that has been with the company only 4 years and has less top level experience than the markets would have been fully comfortable with.

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. Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said that both the companies have already starting branding exercise for the new entity.

Vodafone said the appointments followed an internal and external search for candidates.

He was also instrumental in Vodafone's $130-billion stake sale in Verizon Wireless. "And we announced last week the acquisition of Liberty Global's cable assets in Germany and Central and Eastern Europe, transforming the Group into Europe's leading next generation network owner and a truly converged challenger to dominant incumbents". This will bring an end to Colao's 10-year tenure as CEO of the wireless company.

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Read will be left to convince regulators to approve the deal with Liberty, which is facing stiff opposition from Deutsche Telekom and isn't due to close until mid-2019.

Vodafone India on Tuesday posted operating profit of Rs 9,805 crore for 2017-18.

The exit of Colao is known at same time that company has reported that its benefit attributed annual until last 31 of March was of 2.439 billion of euros, compared to losses of 6.297 billion euros in same period of previous year.

"It really is an opportunity to elevate what we offer for our customers", Read said to reporters.

"Losses continued in India as service revenue declined 18.7 per cent as a result of intense price competition from the new entrant, aggressive competitor responses and a significant reduction in MTRs (mobile termination rates)", Vodafone said. Analysts have long speculated that the former McKinsey & Co consultant could shift back to Italy - where he joined Vodafone through its acquisition of Mannesmann - to move into Italian politics. "Frankly, today I have none".

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