Feeds

Is Voda's Colao the new Gordon Brown?

Sarin jumped ship just in time?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Come July Vodafone will have a new boss, one who has had his eyes on the top job for half a decade and has strong ideas on how the company should be run. But he takes over a company that has been expanding abroad while cutting costs at home - two strategies he's unlikely to be able to sustain in the long run.

Tony Blair will be remembered as the Prime Minister who jumped at just the right moment, leaving his deputy to take over the mess and, more importantly, to take the blame for it. Vittorio Colao takes over a company that has expanded about as far as it can into new markets, and is already cut to the bone at home, but is plagued by tireless shareholders who won't tolerate any change in strategy despite the lack of room to manoeuvre.

In 2003 Colao and Sarin competed for the job running Vodafone, and Colao lost. When Sarin was appointed Colao left the telecoms company to run an Italian media firm for a year or two, before falling out with shareholders and coming back into the fold in 2006.

At that time many thought he was being brought in to oust Sarin by the recently appointed Chairman Sir John Bond, forcing company representatives to assure shareholders that Sarin had personally approved the appointment.

Tuesday's resignation of Sarin caught some by surprise despite the fact that summer 2008 was the original schedule – five years after he took on the job. Most of us could see 45 million reasons he would want to hang on another 12 months, but even a mega bonus that big is probably not a priority to the man who made £17m selling AirTouch to Vodafone less than ten years ago.

Since taking over the company Sarin has expanded heavily into developing markets, investing in Turkey, the Czech Republic and Romania, and most notably in India. Vodafone has also divested itself of interests where it lacks a majority holding - where the company is unable to enforce its own business style, with the visible exception of Verizon.

Shareholders have repeatedly called on the company to get rid of Verizon, but Sarin always held firm. So far that obstinacy has paid off, despite the incompatibility between the networks.

Further expansion won't be easy for Vodafone - there aren't many worlds left to conquer - and while South America looks attractive there aren't so many bargains to be had these days. China is more interesting: Vodafone already has around three per cent of Chine Mobile and there is plenty of room for expansion, even if it would be expensive.

Cutting operating costs at home won't be easy either. Sarin has done most of the obvious pruning leaving little for Colao to do besides tidying up the edges.

So the new Vodafone boss will likely spend much of his time explaining all this to angry shareholders, who won't want to see the company's progress stalling despite the uncomfortable realities. When asked about plans the safe pair of hands was generic in response, saying that Vodafone will play an "increasing role in the Internet space... The big push is data, mobile data".

Gordon Brown is not entirely responsible for the state of the UK economy, he just inherited an unsustainable position. Colao has taken on much the same job but hopefully will do a better job of explaining that, and dealing with the consequences. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
Ofcom tackles complaint over Premier League footie TV rights
Virgin Media: UK fans pay the most for the fewest matches
FCC: Gonna need y'all to cough up $1.5bn to put broadband in schools
Kids need more fiber, says Wheeler, and you'll pay for it
NBN Co screws lid on FTTP coffin
Copper and HFC dominate in new corporate plan
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.