Vodafone Group Public Limited Company engages in telecommunication services in Europe and internationally. The company offers mobile services that enable customers to call, text, and access data; fixed line services, including broadband, television (TV) offerings, and voice; and convergence services under the GigaKombi and Vodafone One name to customers.
It also provides value-added services, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) comprising logistics and fleet management, smart metering, insurance, cloud, and security services; and automotive and health solutions. In addition, the company offers M-Pesa, an African payment platform, which provides money transfer, financial, and business and merchant payment services; and various services to operators through its partner market agreements.
Vodafone Group Public Limited Company has a strategic partnership with Open Fiber. As of March 31, 2022, it had approximately 323 million mobile customers, 28 million fixed broadband customers, and 22 million TV customers. The company was incorporated in 1984 and is based in Newbury, the United Kingdom.
The evolution of Vodafone started in 1981 with the establishment of the Racal Strategic Radio Ltd subsidiary of Racal Electronics, the UK's largest maker of military radio technology, which formed a joint venture with Millicom called 'Racal', which evolved into the present Vodafone.
In 1980, Ernest Harrison, the then chairman of Racal Electronics, agreed to a deal with Lord Weinstock of the General Electric Company to allow Racal to access some of GEC's tactical battlefield radio technology. The head of Racal's military radio division, Gerry Whent, was briefed by Ernest Harrison to drive the company into commercial mobile radio. When visited a mobile radio factory run by General Electric in Virginia, USA, the same year to understand the commercial use of military radio technology. Jan Stenbeck, head of a growing Swedish conglomerate, set up an American company, Millicom Inc, and approached Gerry. When in July 1982 about bidding jointly for the UK's second cellular radio licence. The two struck a deal giving Racal 60% of the new company, Racal-Millicom Ltd, and Millicom 40%. Due to concerns of the British government about foreign ownership, the terms were revised, and in December 1982, the Racal-Millicom partnership was awarded the second UK mobile phone network licence. The final ownership of Racal-Millicom Ltd was 80% Racal, with Millicom holding 15% plus royalties, and the 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 of Racal-Vodafone Ltd, with its first office based in the Courtyard in Newbury, Berkshire, and shortly thereafter Racal Strategic Radio was renamed Racal Telecommunications Group Limited.
The first non-Vodafone employee to make a UK mobile phone call was comedian Ernie Wise, from St Katharine Docks, London on 1 January 1985. On 29 December 1986, Racal Electronics issued shares to the minority shareholders of Vodafone worth £110 million, and Vodafone became a fully owned brand of Racal. On October 1988, Racal Telecom, the 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 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, Racal demerged Racal Telecom in 1991.
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 two-thirds of Talkland it did not already own for £30.6 million. On 19 November 1996, in a defensive move, Vodafone purchased for £77 million Peoples Phone, a 181-store chain whose customers were overwhelmingly using Vodafone's network. In a similar move, the company acquired the 80% that it did not already own of Astec Communications, a service provider with 21 stores.
In January 1997, Whent retired and Chris Gent took over as CEO. In the same year, Vodafone introduced its Speechmark logo, composed of a quotation mark in a circle, with the Os in the Vodafone logotype representing opening and closing quotation marks and suggesting conversation. On 29 June 1999, Vodafone completed its purchase of American service provider AirTouch Communications, Inc. and changed its name to Vodafone Airtouch plc. The merged company commenced trading on 30 June 1999. The acquisition gave Vodafone a 35% share of Mannesmann, owner of the largest German mobile network. To gain antitrust approval for the merger, Vodafone sold its 17.2% stake in Mannesmann's German competitor, E-Plus Mobilfunk.
On 21 September 1999, Vodafone agreed to merge its US 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's purchase of Orange, the UK mobile operator. 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 protests 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 after Vodafone agreed to divest the 'Orange' brand, which was acquired in May 2000 by France Télécom.
On 28 July 2000, the Company reverted to its former name, Vodafone Group plc. 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 for investment by Vodafone. The concept would be used to extend the Vodafone brand and services into markets where it did 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.
Vodafone sponsored the Premier League team Manchester United F.C. in football from 2000 until the 2005-06 season. 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. 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 was to focus on implementing strategies in cloud computing and strengthen its professional services offering. In April 2012, Vodafone announced an agreement to acquire Cable & Wireless Worldwide for £1.04 billion. The acquisition gave Vodafone access to CWW's fibre network for businesses, enabling it to offer unified communications to enterprises. On 18 June 2012, Cable & Wireless' shareholders voted in favour of the Vodafone offer.
On 2 September 2013, Vodafone announced it would be selling its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for $US130 billion. With the proceeds from the deal, it announced a £19 billion Project Spring initiative to improve network quality in Europe and emerging markets, such as India. In June 2017, the company took measures to prevent its advertising from appearing within outlets focused on creating and sharing hate speech and fake news. In January 2020, Vodafone confirmed that it has pulled out of Diem Association, the governing council for the Facebook-created global digital currency initiative.
“To connect for a better future and our expertise and scale gives us a unique opportunity to drive positive change for society.”.
“Our aim is to build a sustainable digital society that is inclusive for all, where technology and connectivity are enhancing the future and improving people's lives.”
Ms. Rosemary Elisabeth Scudamore Martin (Group Gen. Counsel & Company Sec.)
Stefanie Reichel (Director of Legal & Compliance)
Ms. Leanne S. Wood (Chief HR Officer)
Mr. António Rui de Lacerda Carrapatoso (Chief Exec. Officer of Vodafone Portugal Operations)
Ms. Serpil Timuray (Chief Exec. Officer of Europe Cluster)
Mr. Rob Mukherjee (Head of North West regional business)
Mr. Tony Bailey (Head of Regional Bus.)
Mr. Johan Wibergh (Group Chief Technology Officer)
Ms. Margherita Della Valle (CFO & Director)