Nokia CEO Suri quits after 5G setbacks
Rajeev Suri has quit as Nokia’s CEO after a series of disappointments that included 5G product difficulties and an apparent setback in China. He will be succeeded later this year by Pekka Lundmark, the current president and CEO of Finnish energy company Fortum, the company announced in a statement today.
The news follows reports that Nokia was considering various strategic options including a possible sale of assets or merger, though that speculation has been dismissed this morning by the company’s chairman Risto Siilasmaa during a press conference about Suri’s departure. Its share price has lost more than a third of its value in the last year and fell 5.5% in Helsinki on Friday, to close at €3.45 ($3.83).
Investors who feel the shake-up is already long overdue may be disappointed it is not happening sooner: Suri will not leave his role until August 31, according to Nokia’s statement, and he is set to remain as a strategic advisor to the Nokia board until January 2021.
He will forever be remembered as the man who led Nokia to a €15.6 billion ($17.3 billion) takeover of rival Alcatel-Lucent. That mega deal established Nokia as one of the world’s three largest network equipment vendors, alongside China’s Huawei and Sweden’s Ericsson, and took it into the markets for optical/IP transport and fixed broadband network products after it had previously concentrated on the mobile sector.
Suri has repeatedly justified the deal on the grounds that Nokia needed an “end-to-end” product portfolio to satisfy customers’ diverse network needs, but the takeover has brought little obvious success for Nokia.
The company made a net profit of just €18 million ($20 million) on sales of €23.3 billion ($25.8 billion) in its most recent fiscal year and has been forced to cut dividends while it bolsters cash reserves and pumps R&D funds into its ailing 5G business. Nokia’s share price has more than halved since the Alcatel-Lucent takeover was first announced in 2015.
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