What makes him powerful: Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) CEO Hans Vestberg has more than ably filled in the shoes of his predecessor, Carl-Henric Svanberg, who left at the beginning of the year to become the chairman of BP.
Vestberg has kept the world's largest infrastructure vendor humming along fairly steadily, despite taking hits, along with much of the industry, from component shortages throughout the year. He has benefited from the advantages of Ericsson's scale and reach and has cemented the company as the dominant player in the North American market while also maintaining the company's focus on expanding its services business.
Ericsson purchased Nortel Networks' stake in its networking joint venture with LG Electronics, LG-Nortel, for $242 million, adding to Ericsson's collection of Nortel's assets; Ericsson purchased Nortel's CDMA and LTE assets for $1.13 billion last year, and also scooped up the company's North American GSM business.
Ericsson scored a win in February when AT&T (NYSE:T) selected it along with Alcatel Lucent to be its primary vendors for this LTE network. Ericsson won similar deals with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS).
Sales fell in the first half of the year, but Vestberg has positioned the company to take advantage of burgeoning mobile broadband opportunities not just in North America, but in China and other markets. The company's strong position and reputation as an LTE vendor will only be enhanced as it rolls out more networks. Additionally, although Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is its only major managed services partner in the United States, Vestberg is bullish on services in general and Ericsson's focus on them, which will likely help Ericsson maintain its strong position even if equipment sales fall off. --Phil