“Market Cap $96.9 B As of May 2014
At a Glance
- Industry: Telecommunications services
- Founded: 1984
- Country: United Kingdom
- CEO: Vittorio Colao
- Website: www.vodafone.com
- Employees: 91,272
- Sales: $65.1 B
- Headquarters: Newbury
#38 Global 2000
- #121 in Sales
- #8 in Profit
- #123 in Assets
- #74 in Market value
Vodafone Group Plc provides mobile telecommunication services. The company provides voice services, such as mobile voice communications and voice roaming, messaging services, including text picture and video messaging on mobile devices, data services, such as email, mobile connectivity, Internet on mobile, data roaming and fixed broadband services, fixed voice and data solutions, mobile advertising and business managed services. It provides business solutions, personal solutions and branded phones and devices. The business solution provides integrated communications, mobile solutions, productivity services, voice and messaging, roaming and machine to machine solutions. The integrated communications offers fixed and mobile communications both voice and data into one simple solution. The mobile solutions offer mobile broadband, secure mobile working and mobile email. The branded phones and devices offers Vodafone Smart mini, Vodafone Smart III, Vodafone 575, Vodafone Smart Tab II, Vodafone Smart Chat, Vodafone Smart II and Vodafone Chat. The company was founded in 1984 and is headquartered in Newbury, the United Kingdom.“
The evolution of ‘Vodafone’ brand started in 1982 with the establishment of ‘Racal Strategic Radio Ltd’ subsidiary of Racal Electronics plc – UK’s largest maker of military radio technology. By initiative of Jan Stenbeck Racal Strategic Radio Ltd formed a joint venture with Millicom called ‘Racal Vodafone’, which would later evolve into the present day Vodafone.
Evolution as a Racal Telecom brand: 1980 to 1991
In 1980, Sir Ernest Harrison OBE, the then chairman of Racal Electronics plc. to a deal with Lord Weinstock of General Electric Company plc to allow Racal to access some of GEC’s tactical battle field radio technology. The head of Racal’s military radio division – Gerry Whentwas briefed by Ernest Harrison to drive the company into commercial mobile radio. Whent visited GE’s mobile radio factory in Virginia, USA the same year to understand the commercial use of military radio technology.
Previously in 1979, Jan Stenbeck, a head of a growing Swedish conglomerate, set up an American company, Millicom, Inc., to pursue mobile communications by applying for licences in the United States.
In the summer of 1982, Stenbeck approached Racal’s Whent about bidding jointly for the UK’s second cellular radio licence, soon to be awarded, the first going by prior arrangement to British Telecom. The two struck a deal giving Racal 60% of the new company, Racal-Millicom, Ltd, and Millicom 40%. Due to UK concerns about foreign ownership, the terms were revised, and in December 1982, the Racal-Milicom partnership was awarded the second UK mobile phone network license. Final ownership of Racal-Millicom, Ltd was 80% Racal, with Millicom holding 15% plus royalties and venture firm Hambros Technology Trust holding 5%. According to the UK Secretary of State for Industry, “the bid submitted by Racal-Millicom Ltd… provided the best prospect for early national coverage by cellular radio.”
Vodafone was launched on 1 January 1985 under the new name, Racal-Vodafone (Holdings) Ltd, with its first office based in the Courtyard in Newbury, Berkshire, and shorty thereafter Racal Strategic Radio was renamed Racal Telecommunications Group Limited.On 29 December 1986, Racal Electronics bought out the minority shareholders of Vodafone for GB£110 million; and Vodafone became a fully owned brand of Racal.
In September 1988, the company was again renamed Racal Telecom. On 26 October 1988, Racal Telecom, majority held by Racal Electronics; went public on the London Stock Exchange with 20% of its stock floated. The successful flotation led to a situation where the Racal’s stake in Racal Telecom was valued more than the whole of Racal Electronics. Under stock market pressure to realise full value for shareholders of Racal, Harrison decides in 1991 to demerge Racal Telecom.
Vodafone Group, then Vodafone Airtouch plc: 1991 to 2000
On 16 September 1991, Racal Telecom was demerged from Racal Electronics as Vodafone Group, with Gerry Whent as its CEO.
In July 1996, Vodafone acquired the two thirds of Talkland it did not already own for £30.6 million. On 19 November 1996, in a defensive move, Vodafone purchased Peoples Phone for £77 million, a 181 store chain whose customers were overwhelmingly using Vodafone’s network.In a similar move the company acquired the 80% of Astec Communications that it did not own, a service provider with 21 stores.
In January 1997, Gerald Whent retired and Christopher Gent took over as the CEO. The same year, Vodafone introduced its Speechmark logo, composed of a quotation mark in a circle, with the O’s in the Vodafone logotype representing opening and closing quotation marks and suggesting conversation.
On 29 June 1999, Vodafone completed its purchase of AirTouch Communications, Inc. and changed its name to Vodafone Airtouch plc. The merged company commenced trading on 30 June 1999. In order to gain anti-trust approval for the merger, Vodafone sold its 17.2% stake in E-Plus Mobilfunk. The acquisition gave Vodafone a 35% share of Mannesmann, owner of the largest German mobile network.
On 21 September 1999, Vodafone agreed to merge its U.S. wireless assets with those of Bell Atlantic Corp to form Verizon Wireless. The merger was completed on 4 April 2000, just a few months prior to Bell Atlantic’s merger with GTE to form Verizon Communications, Inc.
In November 1999, Vodafone made an unsolicited bid for Mannesmann, which was rejected. Vodafone’s interest in Mannesmann had been increased by the latter purchase ofOrange, the UK mobile operator. Chris Gent would later say Mannesmann’s move into the UK broke a “gentleman’s agreement” not to compete in each other’s home territory. The hostile takeover provoked strong protest in Germany, and a “titanic struggle” which saw Mannesmann resist Vodafone’s efforts. However, on 3 February 2000, the Mannesmann board agreed to an increased offer of £112 billion, then the largest corporate merger ever. The EU approved the merger in April 2000 when Vodafone agreed to divest the ‘Orange’ brand, which was acquired in May 2000 by France Télécom. The conglomerate was subsequently broken up and all manufacturing related operations sold off.
Vodafone Group plc: 2000 to present
On 28 July 2000, the Company reverted to its former name, Vodafone Group plc.
In 2001, the Company acquired Eircell, the largest wireless communications company in Ireland, from eircom. Eircell was subsequently rebranded as Vodafone Ireland. Vodafone then went on to acquire Japan’s third-largest mobile operator J-Phone, which had introduced camera phones first in Japan.
On 17 December 2001, Vodafone introduced the concept of “Partner Networks”, by signing TDC Mobil of Denmark. The new concept involved the introduction of Vodafone international services to the local market, without the need of investment by Vodafone. The concept would be used to extend the Vodafone brand and services into markets where it does not have stakes in local operators. Vodafone services would be marketed under the dual-brand scheme, where the Vodafone brand is added at the end of the local brand. (i.e., TDC Mobil-Vodafone etc.).
In 2007, Vodafone entered into a title sponsorship deal with the McLaren Formula One team, which traded as “Vodafone McLaren Mercedes” until the sponsorship ended at the end of the 2013 season.
In May 2011, Vodafone Group Plc bought the remaining shares of Vodafone Essar from Essar Group Ltd for $5 billion.
On 1 December 2011, it acquired the Reading based Bluefish Communications Ltd – an ICT consultancy company. The acquired operations formed the nucleus of a new Unified Communications and Collaboration practice within its subsidiary – Vodafone Global Enterprise, which will focus on implementing strategies and solutions in cloud computing, and strengthen its professional services offering.
In April 2012, Vodafone announced an agreement to acquire Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW) for £1.04 billion. Vodafone was advised by UBS AG, while Barclays andRothschild advised Cable & Wireless. The acquisition will give Vodafone access to CWW’s fibre network for businesses, enabling it to take unified communications solutions to large enterprises in UK and globally; and expand its enterprise service offerings in emerging markets. On 18 June 2012, Cable & Wireless’ shareholders voted in favour of the Vodafone offer, exceeding the 75% of shares necessary for the deal to go ahead.
On 24 June 2013, Vodafone announced it would be buying German cable company Kabel Deutschland. The takeover is valued at €7.7 billion, and was recommended over the bid of rival Liberty Global.
On 2 September 2013, Vodafone announced it would be selling its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for $130 billion, in one of the biggest deals in corporate history.
In October 2013, Vodafone began its rollout of 4G to provincial New Zealand, with the launch of the system in holiday hotspots around Coromandel.
In February 2014, Vodafone made an offer to acquire Spain’s largest cable operator, ONO, in a deal rumoured to be around €7 billion.”
*Information from Forbes.com and Wikipedia.org
**Video published on YouTube by “Vodafone Global Enterprise“