Vodafone Earnings Growth Above Guidance; CEO Colao To Depart

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Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) -3% premarket after CEO Vittorio Colao said he'll step down in October after 10 years of major dealmaking and reshaping the company into a digital communications powerhouse.

Vodafone group chairman Gerard Kleisterlee remarked: "Nick has been the co-architect of the Group's strategy together with Vittorio, combining extensive global operational and commercial leadership with world-class financial acumen".

Colao, who will leave his post later this year, has helped Vodafone survive challenges in the European market, transforming it from a pure-play mobile provider into a firm focused on converged networks thanks to the multi-billion "Project Spring" network investment programme and the construction and acquisitions of superfast broadband networks. He was previously the Group's Chief Executive for the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region and served as a board member of a number of Vodafone's emerging markets subsidiaries including Vodacom Group and Vodafone India. In 2013, Vodafone sold its stake in Verizon Wireless to U.S. telecoms group Verizon Communications for $130bn, which at the time was one of the biggest deals in corporate history.

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Nick Read joined Vodafone in 2001 as Vodafone UK's finance director before being appointed Vodafone UK's chief commercial officer then Vodafone UK chief executive officer. He will be succeeded by his deputy Margherita Della Valle, who previously ran the organisation's finances for Europe and Italy.

Organic service revenue was up 1.6%, with fourth quarter growth of 1.4%, showing good momentum in data, fixed/convergence and Enterprise.

Following the news, shares in Vodafone fell nearly 4 per cent.

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News of Colao's departure comes after the group recently announced a €18.4-billion deal to buy Liberty Global's operations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.

The turnaround pointed to a "year of significant operational and strategic achievement and strong financial performance", Colao said.

The announcement comes less than a week after Vodafone unveiled a deal to turn it into Europe's largest cable and broadband operator by buying assets from US peer Liberty Global.

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