Colao became Vodafone CEO in July 2008 and during his tenure the company has gone from a consumer-focused 2G/3G mobile operator to a converged communications company with a portfolio that includes what it claims to be the largest mobile and fixed next-generation network in Europe.
Vodafone has announced that Nick Read, now the group's CFO, will succeed Vittorio Colao has the group's chief executive on October 1.
"On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our gratitude to Vittorio for an outstanding tenure", said Vodafone Group Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time.
Mr Read will be replaced by deputy chief financial officer Margherita Della Valle on July 27, which is the date of Vodafone's annual shareholder meeting.
After 10 years of stability under Colao, Vodafone is potentially setting sail into uncharted waters under the guidance of an executive that has been with the company only 4 years and has less top level experience than the markets would have been fully comfortable with.
"The overall improvement in Vodafone's fortunes over the last 10 years is less evident in the United Kingdom, the company's worst major European market, albeit that some of this reflects an inherently more competitive mobile market with four strong players", he added. The company notes that this had it looking at both internal and external candidates.More news: Early voting underway in Montgomery County for May 22 Primary Runoff Election
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Vodafone recently struck a $21.8bn deal to acquire Liberty Global's cable TV and broadband networks in Germany and in India the company is merging its operations with Idea Cellular to strengthen its position in a market that has become increasingly competitive.
As of 08:50 BST, Vodafone's share price had given up 3.57 percent to 199.80p.
Alongside the announcement of Colao's departure, the firm released a solid set of financial results, reporting a 1.4% rise in organic service revenue for its fourth quarter, beating analyst forecasts of a 1.1% rise.
For 2019, the group struck a more cautious tone with a forecast of organic core earnings growth of between 1 and 5 percent, and free cash flow before spectrum costs of at least 5.2 billion euros, slightly down on the 2018 number of 5.4 billion euros. Analysts have long speculated that the former McKinsey & Co. consultant could shift back to Italy - where he joined Vodafone through its acquisition of Mannesmann - to move into Italian politics.
"But it is not yet the time for goodbyes".