Changing of the guard at the top of the Vodafone telecommunications group. The CEO Nick Read will leave at the end of December, the group announces, and Margherita Della Valle has been appointed ad interim in his place. Nick Read, at the helm of Vodafone since 2018, will remain at the disposal of the Board until the end of March 2023, with the end of the fiscal year. Margherita Della Valle, the Italian manager coming from Bocconi, for her part, will continue to cover the role of CFO that she has held since 2018 and will assume the position of interim CEO ad interim, pending the appointment of the new CEO
Thus comes the end of Nick Read’s adventure at the helm of the Vodafone Group, which has become more difficult since the activist fund Cevian months ago began to question the company’s performance, indicating the need to rationalize its activities and investment portfolio. Read’s resignation now comes just weeks after the presentation of the mid-November profit warning in which management reduced its full-year free cash flow target by 4% (from 5.3 billion euros to 5.1 billion), as explains Intermonte «in the face of the increase in costs linked to electricity and the deterioration of performance in some key markets such as Germany, Italy and Spain».
It must be said that pressure from activist funds has led the Group to adopt a more pragmatic approach as evidenced by the sale of Vodafone Hungary. Also under discussion is the Vantage Tower deal, with an agreement to sell up to 50% of its tower company to a consortium including private equity firms KKR and Global Infrastructure Partners and the Public Investment Fund of Arabia Saudi. Since the beginning of the year, Vodafone shares have lost 18.8% against -11.5% for the sector and +2% for the FTSE 100 UK. The founder of Iliad, Xavier Niel, joined Vodafone in the autumn with the purchase of the 2.5% stake in Vodafone, considering it “an interesting investment opportunity”.