New Vodafone CEO named as investors force change
Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone operator, has named Gerard Kleisterlee, the chief executive of Dutch electronics giant Philips, as chairman after some shareholders voted against the re-election of incumbent John Bond.
Mr Kleisterlee (64) is due to step down as Philips CEO in March. He'll be appointed as a non-executive director of Vodafone on April 1 before becoming chairman at the annual meeting in July.
Mr Kleisterlee revived earnings at Philips and replaces Mr Bond, whose resignation was called for by more than 6pc of shareholders last July, with one investor labeling Vodafone's acquisition record "disastrous".
"Vodafone has some of the same problems which Philips used to have," said Corne van Zeijl, who helps manage about €40bn at SNS Asset Management.
He added that Vodafone needed to deal with minority holdings it couldn't control, including a 45pc stake in US operator Verizon Wireless. "I think that's the main reason why Kleisterlee has been picked."
Mr Bond said yesterday that the succession planning process at Vodafone started in February last year.
Mr Kleisterlee's "track record at Philips speaks for itself", he said.
Mr Bond became chairman in 2006 after retiring as chairman of HSBC bank. Vodafone releases third-quarter results today. (Bloomberg)