Vodafone Group is reported to be looking to replace its chairman, Sir John Bond, following investor criticism over the operator group’s strategy. Apparently Bond, a former chairman of bank HSBC, has told colleagues that it was always his intention to stand-down after a six-year period, although the move is also timely: Vodafone investor Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan recently voted against the re-election of Bond, citing the company’s “strategic weakness” and “disastrous” acquisitions record. It was noted that, on his arrival, Bond played an important role in strengthening Vodafone’s relationship with investors who were unhappy with Arun Sarin, then in the chief executive role.
Vodafone is believed to be considering divesting its minority holdings in Polkomtel (Poland), SFR (France) and China Mobile, in order to appease investors who do not see the value in the holdings, which were bought by Vodafone when it was at its most acquisitive. Separately, it was reported that a number of private equity companies are currently lining-up bids for the Polish player. Meanwhile Vodafone appears no closer to resolving its issues with Verizon Communications over Verizon Wireless, which has not paid a dividend to Vodafone since 2005. But these are not new issues, and have not been tackled by any of Vodafone’s chief executives in recent years, indicating that a change of chairman may not spur the company into immediate action.