Vodafone names new CEO for European operations

Vodafone Group has appointed Vittorio Colao as European CEO, in a move to combat tough trading conditions in the region, an Associated Press report said.

The report said Colao, who is currently CEO at Italian media company RCS Media Group, replaced Bill Morrow who left Vodafone in July to return to the United States for family reasons.

He would also become deputy CEO when he joins Vodafone in October, replacing Julian Horn-Smith, who also stepped down recently, the report said.

Morrow's departure was one of a string of exits by high-profile executives in the first half, forcing the telco to deny reports of rifts at the company's helm.

Traders said Colao's appointment was a positive move, as it could spark speculation that he would eventually replace Arun Sarin as CEO, the report said.

Sarin has come under fire from shareholders in recent months due to a lackluster share price performance and a widespread perception that Vodafone still lacks a
credible strategy for further growth.

The company's shares rose 0.4% to 114.5 pence ($2.18) on the London Stock Exchange.

Before joining RCS Media in 2004, Colao held a number of positions within Vodafone, as chief executive of Italy and then the Southern Europe, Middle East and
Africa Region.

"He was held in high regard the first time he was at Vodafone and it was seen as a loss when left," said WestLB analyst Morten Singleton, according to the report.