Vodafone Italy Names Ariston’s Bisio CEO to Replace Bertoluzzo

Vodafone Group Plc named Aldo Bisio, a former McKinsey & Co. partner, to run its struggling Italian business as the company strives to reverse a three-year slide in revenue there.

Bisio will replace Paolo Bertoluzzo -- now also in charge of Vodafone’s worldwide commercial operations -- on Jan. 1, the company said today in a statement. Bisio most recently served as chief executive officer of Ariston Thermo SpA.

The 53-year-old will be in charge of halting a decline in sales in one of the countries worst hit by the debt crisis. Vodafone reported a 7.7 billion-pound ($12.5 billion) impairment on its businesses in Italy and Spain in the year ended in March. Service revenue for the Italian unit declined 13 percent during the year as sales were battered by price wars and a weak economy.

Bertoluzzo, who began today in his new role, will continue directing Italian operations until Bisio takes office, according to the statement. Bloomberg News reported the decision yesterday.

Vodafone Italy had a 31.6 percent share of the country’s wireless market by customers, trailing the 34.4 percent at Telecom Italia SpA, according to first-quarter data compiled by communications regulator Agcom. Telecom Italia is also bracing for leadership changes, with CEO Franco Bernabe planning to tell his board this week he’s ready to step down after losing the backing of its biggest investor.

McKinsey, RCS

Bertoluzzo moved on as part of Vodafone’s reorganization of its European operations. The Newbury, England-based company is merging its northern and southern Europe businesses into a single unit lead by Philipp Humm as well as managers for the individual countries.

Bisio’s background is similar to Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao’s. Both are former McKinsey partners. Bisio headed the Italian newspaper operations at RCS MediaGroup SpA from 2005 to 2006, when Colao was RCS’s CEO. Bisio was named CEO of Ariston Thermo, a water-heater manufacturer, in 2011.

Vodafone shares rose 0.2 percent to 216.50 pence at 11:20 a.m. in London.

Last month, Vodafone had to fill the CEO post at its U.K. unit after Guy Laurence said he would take the top job at Canada’s Rogers Communications Inc. on Dec. 2. Jeroen Hoencamp, head of the British enterprise business and former CEO of Vodafone Ireland, will replace him.

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