Nokia confirmed Rajeev Suri as its new president and CEO, a day after its former chief said Microsoft will seek to quickly phase out the Finnish company's brand from its future smartphones.
Rajeev Suri, will become Nokia CEO on May 1
Suri will take the helm on May 1 and will be tasked with moving the company forward after the sale of its devices business to Microsoft. That deal was completed last week.
Nokia chose Suri after he successfully turned around the performance of its networking business, Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), which generated a non-IFRS operating profit of €216 million ($299 million) in the opening quarter of 2014, compared to €196 million in the same period of 2013.
Nokia chairman, Risto Siilasmaa, said Suri "has a proven ability to create strategic clarity, drive innovation and growth, ensure disciplined execution, and deliver results.
"We believe that his passion for technology will help ensure that Nokia continues to deliver innovations that have a positive impact on people's lives," added Siilasmaa, who has been acting CEO since the sale of the devices unit was announced in September last year.
Nokia will build its strategy around NSN, its cloud-based Here location services business, and its Technologies division, which will handle the licensing of the company's intellectual property and explore new technologies.
The vendor also announced a €5 billion capital structure optimisation programme, which will be used to restart payment of ordinary dividends, distribute excess capital to shareholders, and cut the company's interest bearing debt.
Suri said the technology industry "is on the verge of a change that we believe will be as profound as the creation of the internet," and that the company's three businesses leave it well placed to be a market leader.
The appointment ends months of speculation about who will take up the reins at Nokia and direct the company's future strategy after it agreed to sell its devices business to Microsoft for €5.4 billion in September 2013. Former CEO, Stephen Elop, stepped down when the deal was announced, and has now taken up his role as EVP of Microsoft Devices Group.
While the agreement provides Microsoft with the right to use the Nokia brand on its smartphones, Elop said on Monday that Microsoft is likely to quickly drop the brand.
"The Nokia brand is available to Microsoft to use for its mobile phones products for a period of time, but Nokia as a brand will not be used for long going forward for smartphones. Work is underway to select the go forward smartphone brand," Elop said during a question and answer session on Nokia's website.
Nokia also announced Tuesday that it overturned a €30 million operating loss in the first quarter of 2013 with a profit of €242 million in the recent quarter. The figure is down sequentially, however, from €274 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.
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