Vodafone has named Margherita Della Valle as its new Group chief executive.

It brings an end to the search for Nick Read's successor, with the operator choosing to appoint Della Valle, who has been interim chief executive since the start of the year, permanently.

Margherita Della Valle
– Vodafone

In addition to her role as chief executive, Della Valle will also continue in her role as Group chief financial officer, at least until an external search for this position is complete.

“I am honored to have been appointed as Group chief executive. Vodafone has a unique position in Europe and Africa with strong customer relationships, networks, and people," said Della Valle.

"To realize our potential Vodafone needs to change. We know we can do better. My focus will be to improve the service for our customers, simplify our business and grow.”

Vodafone revealed that Della Valle will be on a base salary of £1.25 million ($1.56m), while her bonuses are limited to a maximum of 200 percent of her base salary.

A veteran of the company, Della Valle has been at Vodafone since 1994, working in a variety of roles, including Europe CFO, Group financial controller, and deputy Group CFO.

She replaces Nick Read, who stood down from the role at the end of last year after four years at the helm.

Della Valle joins the company at a busy time, with the operator strongly linked with a merger deal with Three in the UK, while French tycoons Xavier Niel's Iliad Group has reportedly revived talks with Vodafone Group over a potential deal to buy some of the operator's European assets.

Niel is keen to push more consolidation opportunities for the operator, which has failed in the past to get some deals over the line.

Commenting on the appointment, CCS Insight director for consumer and connectivity Kester Mann told DCD, the appointment suggests that Vodafone's strategy will remain similar to its current one.

"After such a protracted recruitment process, it’s hard not to conclude that the appointment of Margherita della Valle wasn’t the initial first choice for all parties after Nick Read’s departure was announced. However, she has strong credentials through a wealth of experience both internationally and within Vodafone, including a stint as interim boss."