With the shares languishing at their lowest levels in more than 20 years it is hard to describe departing Vodafone CEO Nick Read’s tenure as anything other than a disappointment.
Read has faced some exceptional challenges in that time, notably an inflation crisis and a global pandemic, however he has struggled to persuade the market and, ultimately his employers, that he has a strategic plan to help revive Vodafone’s growth.
AJ Bell’s Russ Mould said: “It was a damning indictment back in October that activist investor Cevian Capital had apparently begun to give up on hopes of Vodafone ever turning it around as it slashed its stake in the company.
“Read’s final set of results last month did him absolutely no favours, as Vodafone downgraded full-year guidance. Perhaps more worrying was that the response to the pressures the company was facing was simply to cut more costs.
“It felt like an underpowered plan for the challenges in front of Vodafone and in that context the board probably had little option but to dial up a new leader.
“Fresh ideas are needed at Vodafone as the challenges facing the company are significant. It operates in a highly competitive market both in terms of broadband and mobile and has struggled for years to generate meaningful growth.
“What a change at the top means for a potential tie-up with rival network Three remains to be seen, presumably the incoming boss will have his own ideas about how to charge up growth at Vodafone. Chatter about a takeover of TalkTalk to bolster its UK broadband offer may gather pace.
“The good news for whoever takes charge at Vodafone on a permanent basis is the share price is at rock bottom and they probably have licence to take bold steps, but equally patience could be in short supply.”