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NSN's Rajeev Suri: Restructuring, Research & Resilience

There's little doubt that Rajeev Suri knew he was facing an uphill battle when he took over from Simon Beresford-Wylie as CEO of Nokia Networks on October 1, 2009. (See Nokia Siemens Replaces Its CEO.)



The joint venture had struggled in an increasingly competitive network infrastructure market since it was born on April 1, 2007, and had already undertaken a series of cutbacks during its first two years. (See Nokia Siemens Opens on a Downer, NSN Products Face Further Cuts, Nokia Siemens CEO Slams 'Silly Pricing' and Nokia Siemens Braced for Tough 2009.)

Only two weeks into his tenure, NSN reported declining revenues and growing operating losses, and before 2009 was out, Suri felt he needed to tell Nokia's investors that "Reports of our death are not only greatly exaggerated, but they are totally false." (See No Sign of Recovery for Nokia Siemens and NSN CEO: Don't Write Our Obituary.)

During 2010 and much of 2011 Suri searched for a way to pull NSN out of its rut with a combination of acquisitions, internal revamps and a search for new investors. (See NSN & Moto: It's All in the Execution , NSN Revamps SPIT Unit, Nokia Siemens Seeks Cash and NSN CEO Talks Up US Push in 2011.)

Then, in September 2011, NSN appointed an executive chairman with telecom finance experience and bagged a cash injection of €1 billion (US1.33 billion) from its parents in what looked like a make or break investment from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). (See NSN Gets $1.36B & New Leader.)

That was followed in November by the unveiling of a restructuring plan that will see a major headcount reduction, a slimmer product and services portfolio, and a much tighter strategic direction for the vendor built around mobile broadband, professional services and customer experience management (CEM). (See NSN to Cut 17,000 Staff, NSN Unveils Its Kill List , Analysts: NSN Focus Makes Sense and 2011 Top Ten: NSN's Amazing Year.)

The vendor followed that with a number of announced divestments and news that it had secured a €1.3 billion ($1.73 billion) loan facility from 15 international banks. (See Adtran to Buy NSN's Broadband Unit, NSN to Sell WiMax Biz and DragonWave to Acquire NSN Microwave Unit.)

And, of course, it's still looking to offload more assets deemed non-core. (See M&A Interest in NSN's BSS Assets Builds.)

That's a great deal of upheaval, and so it's not surprising that, earlier this year, the security of Suri's own position was called into question, though the rumors were quickly and firmly quashed. (See Unsettling Times at NSN and Euronews: NSN Denies 'New CEO' Report.)

So how does Suri view NSN's situation? Light Reading talked to him and the vendor's head of marketing and corporate affairs Barry French about the restructuring, R&D investment, the market, the future and customer experience.

This is the first part of the interview, which focuses in the next few pages on NSN's restructuring process and the vendor's R&D investment strategy. The second part can be found at NSN's Rajeev Suri: Carrier Capex & Customer Experience.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

Next Page: NSN's Restructuring

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