Vodafone Group announced CEO Nick Read (pictured) will step down at the end of 2022, with CFO Margherita Della Valle taking the interim role while the company seeks a permanent replacement.
The operator added Della Valle would continue in her current job alongside taking the helm on a temporary basis. After stepping down Read will continue as an adviser to Vodafone’s board until the end of March 2023.
No specific reason was given for his departure, but in a statement the outgoing chief noted he agreed “with the board that now is the right moment to hand over to a new leader who can build on Vodafone’s strengths and capture the significant opportunities ahead”.
Vodafone chairman Jean-Francois van Boxmeer praised Read’s contribution to the business across his 20 years in various roles, adding the interim chief had recently taken a “broader operational role” at the business.
Read took over as CEO in 2018, having previously been CFO under previous chief Vittorio Colao.
During Read’s tenure the company completed a number of major changes to the business, completing a big-money purchase of assets from Liberty Global initiated under his predecessor and raising cash from spinning off its towers in Europe.
A frequent theme of Read’s time at the helm was his pro-consolidation stance in Europe, based on deemed high levels of competition and high capex requirements across several markets.
Although Vodafone is in discussions with CK Hutchison over a tie-up between the companies’ respective units in the UK, a deal on this is yet to be announced.
Earlier this year, Vodafone reportedly faced investor pressure to overhaul the business to boost its share price.
CCS Insight director for consumer and connectivity Kester Mann commented Read’s departure was “no massive surprise [as] he had come under growing pressure from disgruntled shareholders amid disappointing stock performance”.
“During the latter part of his tenure, Read increasingly sought mergers and acquisitions”, Mann added, noting “deals in targeted markets such as Spain, Italy and Portugal have so far proved elusive”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back