CFO: Don't Expect Major M&A From Ericsson as It Rights Ship

NEW YORK -- Ericsson Capital Markets Day -- Don't expect any major M&A activity from Ericsson over the next couple of years, Ericsson's CFO said Wednesday afternoon. But he didn't rule out small, opportunistic buys by the Swedish vendor.

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s top brass gathered near Times Square Wednesday to dampen revenue expectations. Ericsson executives now expect to generate annual revenues of SEK 190 billion to SEK 200 billion ($22.7 billion to $23.9 billion) by 2020, compared to sales of SEK 211 billion ($25.2 billion) in the last 12 months. New flak-jacket-loving CEO Börje Ekholm is promising a "prudent" prediction of a 10% operating margin by 2020. (See Cisco/Ericsson Partnership to Miss $1B Sales Target in 2018 and Ericsson's CEO on 5G, Managed Services & Keeping Subscribers Happy.)

"We need to basically secure the ship," Ekholm told the crowd of financial analysts late in the day.

Flak Happy
Ericsson CEO Ekholm came dressed prepared for a grilling from the crowd of financial analysts.
Ericsson CEO Ekholm came dressed prepared for a grilling from the crowd of financial analysts.

Ericsson's ship is being continually roiled by low RAN sales, the unexpected strength of the Swedish Krona and the need to overhaul its services business. Don't expect Ericsson to try and buy its way out of the situation, however.

CFO Carl Mellander said Wednesday afternoon that he didn't expect any major acquisitions in Ericsson's near future. "We need to reach a profitability level and a stability level, otherwise we will not be good at integrating anyway," he said.

He didn't, however, rule out smaller buys.

CEO Ekholm was also questioned about whether Ericsson had considered spinning or selling off any of its larger business units. The vendor is already looking for a buyer for its Media division.

"We have done that," he told the questioner in the crowd. "What we see in these business is that the links are very strong," noting how the OSS and managed services businesses are strongly connected to the networks unit.

"The parts would be worth less on their own than they are combined," Ekholm suggested.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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