Vodafone in Trouble

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR213
Case Length : 20 Pages
Pages Period : 2000-2006
Organization : Vodafone
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : UK, US and Japan
Themes : Globalization Strategies | Problems
Industry : Consumer Electronics

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Building the Vodafone Empire

Gent, who had been working with TVG since 1985, succeeded Whent as the company's CEO in September 1997. TVG underwent drastic transformation under Gent's management. After becoming CEO, Gent set up three wholly-owned Service Providers within TVG namely, Vodafone Corporate, Vodafone Retail, and Vodafone Connect.

By setting up these subsidiaries, TVG could rationalize its numerous billing and customer care systems, tariff structures, etc. In order to expand the company' s cellular network, Gent set up 250 'Vodafone stores' all over the UK. He also introduced a new corporate identity and logo for TVG. The new corporate identity and expansion of the distribution network helped Vodafone in strengthening its brand all over the UK. By 1998, TVG had a market share of 35 percent in the UK. In 1998, TVG had a market capitalization of $35 billion and ranked first among BusinessWeek's top 100 non-US information technology companies. At this point of time, Gent decided to turn TVG into a global company. He wanted the Vodafone network to have a 'global footprint'.

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Beginning 1999, Gent started buying many telecom companies around the world to realize his vision of turning TVG into a global wireless company. To begin with, he acquired AirTouch Communications Inc. (ACI), a leading US wireless company, in early 1999 for $56 billion, paid entirely in stock.

The combined entity known as Vodafone AirTouch plc (VA) had a market capitalization of around $110 billion. Post merger, VA became the largest wireless company in the world. Gent became the CEO of the new company. In September 1999, VA entered into a strategic alliance with Bell Atlantic Corp. (BAC), a leading telecom company in the US. Both BAC and TVG had earlier fought over the acquisition of ACI. The companies agreed to merge their respective US wireless assets, which included cellular assets of AirTouch Cellular, Bell Atlantic Mobile, PrimeCo Personal Communications L.P., and GTE Corp. The alliance led to the formation of a new wireless company called Verizon Wireless (Verizon)...

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