Vodafone CEO Nick Read is stepping down after four years in office, telecom firm says
Vodafone chief executive Nick Read is stepping down, the British telecommunications group announced on Monday, after a four-year tenure marked by a sharp drop in the company’s share price.
Read will step down at the end of December after more than 20 years with the group, according to a statement.
He will be replaced on an interim basis by Vodafone’s chief financial officer, Margherita Della Valle, who will continue in her current role while Vodafone searches for a permanent replacement.
His surprise resignation comes after Vodafone recently reported stable first-half profits and follows a nearly 20% drop in its share price this year.
“I have agreed with the board that the time has come to hand over to a new leader who can build on Vodafone’s strengths and seize the significant opportunities ahead,” Read said in the statement. .
He is leaving Vodafone to discuss merging its UK business with rival Three UK, owned by Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison.
Vodafone believes a combination would speed up the rollout of 5G telecoms technology in the UK, which has been partly hampered by Britain banning Chinese giant Huawei from getting involved in the technology offering faster downloads than the 4G.
Vodafone’s share price was flat at GBP 91 (about 9,000 rupees) after Monday’s announcement.
“With shares languishing at their lowest levels in over 20 years, it’s hard to describe Vodafone CEO Nick Read’s tenure as anything other than a disappointment,” noted Russ Mould, chief investment officer at AJ Bell. .
“Read’s latest set of results last month did him absolutely no good as Vodafone downgraded its full-year guidance.”
He has also come under pressure from big activist investor Cevian Capital, which recently cut its stake in Vodafone.
However, Read “has helped steer the telecoms giant through the challenges of the pandemic, facilitating connectivity when individuals and households have been forced to stay home during strict shutdowns,” said Victoria Scholar, chief communications officer. investments at Interactive Investor.