NSN CEO wants to expand Juniper partnership, is open to small M&A opportunities

BARCELONA, Spain--Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Solutions and Networks intends to further expand its presence in IP routing, said NSN CEO Rajeev Suri. However, he also downplayed rumors that NSN and networking giant Juniper Networks, with which NSN already has an extensive partnership, have discussed some sort of merger pact.

"We have a partnership with Juniper and we will continue to seek ways to expand the partnership to enable more sales. That's all," Suri said during a press event here prior to the opening of the Mobile World Congress trade show.

In addition, Bloomberg reported that Juniper CEO Shaygan Kheradpir, at a separate event in Barcelona, said he has not been in discussions with NSN regarding a merger.

The rumors surfaced last week following a report in Germany's Manager Magazin Online, which said NSN was eying such a tie-up to get a stronger foothold in the U.S. network equipment market.

On Feb. 24, Thorsten Robrecht, NSN vice president of portfolio management, will make a presentation with Juniper during the LTE and Backhaul Forum at MWC.

During his press briefing, Suri said NSN is open to more partnerships to enhance its business as well small acquisitions if they make strategic sense. "We don't have to do a deal for the sake of a deal," he said in response to a question.

Suri also discussed NSN's continued efforts to revitalize itself in the face of harsh competition. "We are driving efforts to get to growth in the second half," he said.

He cited five target areas for the company, including IP routing, radio access networks (RANs), small cells, network core and mobile backhaul.

Regarding small cells, Suri noted that NSN just announced an indoor picocell with Wi-Fi that has the potential to disrupt the market while meeting the needs for indoor coverage. The device "may not be quite as small as a spec, dot or flea, but it's far more capable and far more flexible," he said.

"In managed services, we're back," Suri said, referring to NSN's efforts to regroup and reassess its manage service business to focus on profitable contracts. He said the company ultimately exited only seven contracts and kept 52.

He said NSN will continue to expand its managed service portfolio, moving even deeper into customer experience management (CEM), telco cloud, data centers and more.

During Mobile World Congress, the NSN Experience Center will feature a "5G" concept demo using new spectrum bands such as millimeter wave. The company is also demonstrating how software-defined networking (SDN) can enable a mobile network 'on demand' concept. That demo was developed with an Asian operator.

Separately, NSN said it will expand EE's LTE network in the UK and improve its 2G network for better performance and reduced power consumption. EE, the UK's largest mobile carrier,

"We are now working with NSN on the next stage of our rollout, covering the next 25 percent of the UK population in rural areas and small towns," said EE CEO Olaf Swantee.

For more:
- see this NSN release and this release
- see this Bloomberg article

Related articles:
Juniper responds to shareholder pressure with $160 million cost-cutting plan
Analyst: NSN merger with Juniper Networks would make sense
Rumor Mill: NSN considers a tie-up with Juniper Networks
NSN to showcase HetNet, Wi-Fi steering developments at MWC 2014
NSN stakes out a telco cloud beachhead with NFV-compliant automated application management
NSN's fourth-quarter sales drop 22%, prompting refocus on growth

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