Olaf Swantee

Vodafone hires former EE boss Olaf Swantee

Tipped as a future CEO of BT, he quit former firm after investors opposed $6 billion takeover

Vodafone has hired the former boss of its biggest UK competitor to join its board. Olaf Swantee was chief executive at EE, having risen through the ranks at Orange and merging it with T-Mobile.

That merger of the third and fourth biggest UK mobile operators created the business he renamed EE, or Everything Everywhere. He stepped down when BT bought it and his commercial director Mark Allera took over.

Swantee had been tipped as a possible successor to BT chief executive Gavin Patterson before Philip Jansen got the job in 2019.

The Dutchman, 55, will join as a non-executive director at Vodafone in July, subject to shareholder approval, and become a member of its audit and risk committee, answering to committee chairman David Nish.

Vodafone chairman Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said:

“He brings a wealth of communications expertise, has a strong track record of value creation and has presided over a number of Europe’s leading telecoms businesses.”

After leaving EE in 2016, Swantee became chief executive of a Swiss company called Sunrise Communications. Swantee has also held positions at the forerunner of Orange in France, HP, and Compaq Computer and Digital Equipment, alongside board positions at several companies including T-Mobile US, Mobistar Belgium and Orange Poland.

Having overseen a successful transformation of the business following its IPO, he quit last year after a shareholder revolt blocked his plan to buy Liberty Global’s Swiss arm for $6.3 billion.

His appointment comes soon after Belgian Jean-Francois van Boxmeer took over as chairman. Boxmeer is former CEO of Heineken.

“It is an honour to be invited to join the Board of Vodafone, Europe and Africa’s leading telecommunications company.  I am greatly looking forward to working with Jean-Francois and the board to support Nick and the executive team successfully drive forward the strategy,” Swantee said.

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