Vodafone taps beer chief for chairman role

Vodafone Group indicated on Friday that Jean-Francois Van Boxmeer is the designated replacement for current chairman Gerard Kleisterlee, who is retiring from the board on November 3, 2020, following a nine-year tenure in the role.

In the meantime, Van Boxmeer is to be appointed non-executive director following Vodafone's AGM on July 28, subject to shareholder approval. He will perhaps use those few months to take a crash course in telecoms: Since 2005, the incoming chairman has been CEO of Heineken, and links between beer and telecoms, apart from as refreshment during industry events, would appear to be thin on the ground.

Van Boxmeer is of course being appointed for his prowess as CEO of a large corporate, which has undergone something of a transformation under his watch.

As pointed out by Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group, Van Boxmeer presided over a "highly successful period of transformation and value creation at Heineken, has extensive international experience in driving growth through both B2B and B2C business models, and is highly regarded as one of the longest standing and most successful CEOs in Europe." He added, "I look forward to Jean-Francois playing a key role in the next stage of Vodafone's strategic development."

Certainly, Van Boxmeer will arrive at a pivotal time for Vodafone as it seeks to consolidate its position as a converged fixed and mobile player, and establish a strong foothold in the digital services ecosystem. Kleisterlee, appointed chairman in July 2011, also saw the Group through a tumultuous period that saw the shedding of Vodafone's 45% stake in Verizon Wireless and its acquisition of Liberty Global assets in Europe.

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— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

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