Vodafone named outgoing Philips Chief Executive Gerard Kleisterlee as its new chairman, bringing emerging markets know-how and an ability to simplify a group to the world's largest mobile operator.
Kleisterlee, who has spent his entire career at Philips, will take over from John Bond at Vodafone's annual general meeting later this year, 12 months after Bond endured a small rebellion over his role in the firm's strategy.
German-born Kleisterlee, who transformed and simplified the previously unwieldy Philips conglomerate after taking over as chief executive in 2001, will face challenges in Vodafone's emerging markets such as India where it is grappling with fierce competition and new regulations.
Like all mobile operators, Vodafone must also grow revenues in its more mature markets, where competition and regulation have pushed pricing lower.
"I am delighted to announce that Gerard Kleisterlee, a highly successful international businessman whose track record at Philips speaks for itself, will be succeeding me as chairman after my six years on the board of Vodafone," Bond said on Wednesday.
More than 6 percent of Vodafone shareholders voted against the re-election of Bond at the company's last AGM in a small protest at what they deemed to be a poor strategy that hurt the firm's value.
Since then, the group has sold assets in China and Japan and is close to selling its stake in France, returning cash to shareholders and boosting its stock.
Vodafone said it had begun the search for a new chairman in February 2010, and ahead of the last AGM.
Kleisterlee, who spent time in Asia when at Philips, will join Vodafone as a non-executive director and take over from Bond at the firm's annual general meeting in July.
"He did a lot of deals at Philips," ING analyst John Davies said. "He simplified and redirected that business which perhaps is what people are hoping he'll be doing over at Vodafone."