Rajeev Suri, president and chief executive officer (CEO) at Finnish telecommunication major Nokia, is stepping down from his role to pursue opportunities outside the company, a statement from Nokia said on Monday. Pekka Lundmark, the current CEO of energy firm Fortum, will take over as president and CEO of Nokia on September 1.
Suri, 52, will work towards smooth transition with his successor before he leaves in August.
“After 25 years at Nokia, I have wanted to do something different," said Suri. “Nokia will always be part of me, and I want to thank everyone that I have worked with over the years for helping make Nokia a better place and me a better leader. I leave the company with a belief that a return to better performance is on the horizon and with pride for what we have accomplished over time. Pekka is an excellent choice for Nokia,” he said. Suri was appointed CEO in April 2014. His departure comes at a time when Nokia is facing a decline in earnings and talks are rife of a potential deal to sell some assets or merger with another telecommunications firm.
A Bloomberg report on February 26 said the Finnish company was in talks with peer Ericsson AB for a merger or partnership in certain business areas. This follows remarks by the US government that European telecom makers must be supported to fight against Huawei, which US banned in 2019.
The US should be ‘actively considering’ investments in Nokia or Ericsson to counter the threat posed by China's dominance of emerging 5G technology, Attorney General William Barr had said in February, according to Bloomberg.
After selling its mobile phone business, along with patents, to Microsoft in 2013, Nokia had been focusing on telecommunication equipment. Microsoft, however, sold the Nokia brand to HMD in 2016, which revived it by launching a range of Windows-powered smartphones.
Nokia, on its own, has been struggling. Against the backdrop of higher spending on 5G technology, Nokia cut its earnings outlook, suspended dividend in October and said profits recovery was not likely in until 2021. Its patents unit, Nokia Technology, reported 3 per cent growth in operating profit to Euro 1.24 billion in 2019, while sales slipped 1 per cent to ^1.49 billion. Nokia also lost a lot of money buying Alcatel-Lucent, another telecom equipment maker, for $16.6 million in 2015. All this put pressure on Suri to act.
“With the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent behind us and the world of 5G in front of us, I am pleased that Pekka has agreed to join Nokia," said Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia board chairman. Siilasmaa, too, will step down in April.
Lundmark said, “I am confident that the company is well-positioned for the 5G era and it is my goal to ensure that we meet our commitments to our customers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders.”