Vodafone Loses Two Top Execs
By Carlo Longino, Wed Jun 23 15:15:00 GMT 2004

The head of Vodafone's troubled Japanese unit and the well-respected boss of its southern European operations have quit, the company says.

The resignations will cast further doubt over the company's strategy, as Vittorio Colao ran Vodafone's Italian unit, the company's most profitable. His departure to head Italian publisher RCS MediaGroup wasn't so big a shock, unlike the resignation of Darryl Green, the chief of Vodafone KK in Japan.

Green left for "personal reasons", though you'd be forgiven for thinking the choice may have been taken out of his hands given the unit's poor recent showing. Vodafone has lost significant market share to rivals NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, its handsets lag market trends and its ARPU has fallen.

Colao, tipped by some as a future Vodafone CEO, will be replaced by the CFO of the Italian unit and southern European businesses, as the company hopes to maintain some continuity and continue its success there. Green has been replaced in the interim by Voda's APAC CEO while a search for a permanent replacement goes on.

The defection of Colao could have a big impact on the company, but it's hard to see a change of leadership in Japan as a bad thing. The Italian unit generates nearly a quarter of Vodafone's cashflow, and it will be important for the new leader to maintain momentum. Vodafone's business in Japan has been on the decline, and effectively replacing the boss reflects a desire to reverse that trend.