Vodafone cuts dividend after swinging to £6.6 billion loss

Mobile phone giant Vodafone has slashed its shareholder dividend payout as it revealed the group swung to a mammoth 7.6 billion euro (£6.6 billion) annual loss.

The group said its full-year dividend – one of the biggest in Britain – has been cut to 9 cents a share, down from 15 cents a share the previous year, in what marked a stinging blow to investors.

It came as Vodafone swung deeply into the red over the year to March 31, against profits of £2.8 billion a year earlier, after it wrote down the value of some of its assets and took a hit on the sale of Vodafone India.

Vodafone saw group annual revenues fall 6.2% to a lower-than-expected 43.7 billion euro (£37.9 billion).

Underlying earnings fell 4.5% to 14.1 billion euro (£12.2 billion), though the group said this marked 3.1% growth on a so-called organic basis.

Vodafone forecast underlying earnings in the range of 13.8 billion euros (£12 billion) to 14.2 billion euros (£12.3 billion) over 2019-20, which it said implied “low single digit” growth on an organic basis.

Nick Read, group chief executive of Vodafone, said: “The group is at a key point of transformation – deepening customer engagement, accelerating digital transformation, radically simplifying our operations, generating better returns from our infrastructure assets and continuing to optimise our portfolio.

“To support these goals and to rebuild headroom, the board has made the decision to rebase the dividend, helping us to reduce debt and deliver to the low end of our target range in the next few years.”

The figures follow Vodafone’s announcement late on Monday that it had sold its New Zealand mobile business for 3.4 billion New Zealand dollars (£1.7 billion) to a consortium of infrastructure investors.