Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao (pictured) called for cross-sector collaboration across Europe to stave off the threat of cyber-criminals, following a huge ransomware attack which hit companies around the world on 12 May.

Speaking following the release of the company’s fiscal Q4 and annual financial results – covering the periods to 31 March 2017 – Colao said although his company was not impacted by the global ransomware attack, the issue of security “kept him awake at night”.

He added Europe needed: “Much larger collaboration between companies across sectors to create a more integrated cyber-defence system.”

“We need to strengthen the cyber defence across Europe and cross-industry collaboration.”

In a wide-ranging discussion on the company’s main concerns for its next fiscal year, the executive said he expected competition to ramp up in the already heated Italian market as a result of the entry of Iliad and its anticipated aggressive pricing structures.

“IIiad is coming into a market that is already very aggressive from a pricing point of view,” he said, adding: “Telecom Italia is also very aggressive and the market is heating up ahead of the new player. We are containing this, but of course that will be a challenge.”

“The name of the game is to continue to be excellent and not take too many pre-emptive moves.”

Colao said Italy was one of the company’s strongest performers during its last financial year, which saw Vodafone Group record a loss of €6.1 billion compared with €5.1 billion in the year to end-March 2016.

Growing losses
The loss in the recent 12 month period was partly as a result of well documented write-downs from in its India unit, which eventually led to a deal to merge Vodafone India with rival Idea Cellular.

Group revenue for the year to 31 March 2017 fell 4.4 per cent to €47 billion, a decline blamed largely on foreign exchange movements.

Vodafone Group’s fiscal Q4 revenue was €11.3 billion, down from €12.0 billion in the same quarter of 2016.

The company pointed to a 6.8 per cent year on year increase in organic service revenue in its AMAP region, adjusted to exclude India, to €2.4 billion as a high point of the recent quarter. The increase, it said, was driven by customer growth in all of its markets and a rapid rise in data usage.

Organic Q4 service revenue in Europe grew a marginal 0.1 per cent year-on-year to €7.6 billion, which Vodafone said was due to the impact of regulation and drag in the UK market through the second half of the year. Vodafone also highlighted one off events, which bolstered its performance during the last quarter of its previous fiscal Q4 and so impacted annual comparisons.

Declines in its service revenue in the UK continued during the recent quarter and for the year overall, driven by higher churn rates, an increase in SIM only plans, and a reduction in roaming and MVNO revenue.

In a statement, the company said: “The [UK] decline was driven by lower revenues, increased costs as a result of sterling weakness post Brexit, regulatory headwinds and reallocation of costs across Vodafone Group.”