Nokia Dumps CEO, Hires Elop

With its mobile device leadership faltering, Nokia replaces Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo with Stephen Elop, a Microsoft man from Canada

September 10, 2010

3 Min Read
Nokia Dumps CEO, Hires Elop

In a move that will surprise few in the mobile industry, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has ousted its president and CEO of more than four years, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. Speculation had been rife that the Finnish mobile giant was looking for a new leader. (See Euronews: July 20.)

His last day at the helm of the world's leading mobile phone maker will be Monday September 20, after which he will be replaced by Canadian Stephen Elop, who currently heads up Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Business Division, which produces the Office software suite.

Kallasvuo, a Nokia veteran of 30 years who was appointed CEO in June 2006, has been under intense pressure this year as Nokia reported less than impressive results. The Finnish company found itself losing ground to competitors (especially in the smartphone sector), and warned that its market share was set to fall. As a result he appeared to lose the confidence of Nokia's investors, and even complained publicly that speculation regarding his future was hampering efforts to re-energize Nokia. (See Nokia Reports Q2, Does iPhone 4 Dash Nokia's High-End Hopes? , and Nokia Reports Q1.)

There's no doubt that while Nokia is still far and away the world's largest mobile device firm in terms of the number of handsets shipped, its lead is shrinking. Nokia commanded a 37.7 percent share of the global mobile handset market in 2009, according to research firm Strategy Analytics Inc. , but in the second quarter of 2010, that share had fallen to 36.1 percent.

In a press release announcing the news, Nokia's chairman, Jorma Ollila, stated: "The time is right to accelerate the company's renewal; to bring in new executive leadership with different skills and strengths in order to drive company success. The Nokia Board believes that Stephen has the right industry experience and leadership skills to realize the full potential of Nokia. His strong software background and proven record in change management will be valuable assets as we press harder to complete the transformation of the company."

News of Kallasvuo's impending departure gave Nokia's share price a boost in morning trading on the Helsinki exchange, as its stock leapt nearly 5 percent to €8.11.

Kallasvuo also loses his place on the Nokia board from September 21, but retains his role as non-executive chairman of joint-venture infrastructure vendor Nokia Networks .

It's inevitable, though, that the arrival of a new CEO at Nokia will boost speculation about NSN's future ownership. (See India Holdups Smack NSN's Q2, Nokia Siemens Seeks Cash, NSN's 2010 Confidence Slips, and ITU RumorWatch: Ericsson, NSN.)

Elop joined Microsoft from Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) in early 2008 -- see this Information Week article for more background on his early days at the software giant -- and previously worked at Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) and Macromedia. (See Juniper COO Elopes With Microsoft.)

He had been identified by Reuters as a potential candidate for the vacant CEO role at HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), and has featured in a number of recent Light Reading articles on the potential of cloud services. (See SPs Combat Cloud Hype, Microsoft Courting SPs as Cloudmates, Hurd Mentality, and Oracle Hires Mark Hurd.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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