Monday Sep 16, 1991 to Present
England, United KingdomVodafone Group plc is a British multinational telecommunications company. Its registered office is located in Newbury, Berkshire, England and its global headquarters is based in London, England. It predominantly operates services in the regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. Among mobile operator groups globally, Vodafone ranked fourth (behind China Mobile, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, of which the Group owns a 45% stake) in the number of mobile customers (313 million) as of 2018.
In 1980, The head of Racal's military radio division, Gerry Whent, was briefed by Ernest Harrison to drive the company into commercial mobile radio. Whent visited a mobile radio factory run by General Electric (unrelated to GEC) in Virginia, USA, the same year to understand the commercial use of military radio technology.
In July 1982, Jan Stenbeck, head of a growing Swedish conglomerate, set up an American company, Millicom Inc, and approached Gerry Whent about bidding jointly for the UK's second cellular radio license. 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 U.K. mobile phone network license. Final ownership of Racal-Millicom Ltd was 80% Racal, with Millicom holding 15% plus royalties, and the venture firm Hambros Technology Trust holding 5%.
Vodafone was launched on 1 January 1985 under the new name, Racal-Vodafone (Holdings) Ltd, with its first office based in the Courtyard in Newbury, Berkshire, and shortly thereafter Racal Strategic Radio was renamed Racal Telecommunications Group Limited.
On 26 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.
On 19 November 1996, in a defensive move, Vodafone purchased Peoples Phone for £77 million, a 181 store chain whose customers were overwhelmingly using Vodafone's network. In a similar move, the company acquired 80% of Astec Communications that it did not own, a service provider with 21 stores.
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.
In November 2005, Vodafone announced that it was in exclusive talks to buy a 15% stake of VenFin in Vodacom Group, reaching an agreement the following day. Vodafone and Telkom then had a 50% stake each in Vodacom. Vodafone now owns 57.5% of Vodacom after purchasing a 15% stake from Telkom.
On 8 November 2006, the company announced a deal with Telecom Egypt, resulting in further co-operation in the Egyptian market and increasing its stake in Vodafone Egypt. After the deal, Vodafone Egypt was 55% owned by the group, while the remaining 45% was owned by Telecom Egypt.
On 11 May 2008, Vodafone sealed a trade agreement with the Chilean Entel PCS Chile, in which Entel PCS has access to the equipment and international services of Vodafone, and Vodafone will be one of the trademarks of Entel for the wireless business.
On 28 January 2009, the Vodafone group announced a partner network agreement with Du, the second-largest operator in the United Arab Emirates. The agreement involved co-operation on international clients, handset procurement, mobile broadband, etc.
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.
In April 2012, Vodafone announced an agreement to acquire Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW) for £1.04 billion. The acquisition gave Vodafone access to CWW's fiber network for businesses, enabling it to take unified communications to expand its enterprise service offerings.
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, like India.
On 29 January 2020, Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and the Vodafone Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the sale of Vodafone's entire 55 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt to STC. With the sale, Vodafone will be exiting Egypt (as a telecom operator) as the rest of the 45 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt is owned by Telecom Egypt. Telecom Egypt has said that it has no plans to sell its stake.