Microsoft's Ballmer acknowledges that Nokia's Elop is a candidate to succeed him

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive, is a candidate to replace him as CEO as he looks to step down sometime in the next 12 months.

microsoft nokia stephen elop


Following Microsoft's announcement that it will pay around $7.2 billion for Nokia's mobile phones business and a license to its patents and mapping software, Elop has jumped to the forefront as a leading candidate to succeed Ballmer as Microsoft focuses more squarely on the mobile market.

Ballmer told the Seattle Times that the Nokia purchase is about "accelerating our devices and services" strategy, rather than about who will succeed him, but he said he told Elop and Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia's chairman and interim CEO, late last month of his plans to retire shortly before Microsoft went public with the news. In several interviews, Ballmer noted that Microsoft has a private search process in place to find a new CEO.

"Stephen will go from external [candidate] to internal," Ballmer told the Seattle Times. "The board will continue [to look at] all appropriate candidates through that process."

As part of Microsoft's purchase of Nokia, Elop will become executive vice president of Nokia's devices and services unit, reporting to Siilasmaa. He relinquished the CEO role to avoid conflicts of interest, since he plans to rejoin Microsoft when Microsoft's purchase of Nokia closes, which is expected sometime in the first quarter of 2014. Elop ran Microsoft's business division and was responsible for the company's Office product suite before becoming Nokia CEO in the fall of 2010.

Following the close of Microsoft's purchase of Nokia, Nokia will be left with three main businesses: Nokia Solutions and Networks, which provides network equipment to carriers; HERE, which sells mapping and location services; and the new Advanced Technologies, which Nokia said "will explore new business opportunities through advanced research, development and concept products in areas such as connectivity, sensing and material technologies, as well as web and cloud technologies." Nokia also said Advanced Technologies will handle the company's patent portfolio.

Siilasmaa told AllThingsD that Nokia "will continue to have three strong businesses" and that Nokia is "very happy with the fact we will be able to support those businesses with a much stronger balance sheet."

For more:
- see this Seattle Times article
- see this The Verge article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this second AllThingsD article
- see this third AllThingsD article
- see this GigaOM article
- see this second The Verge article

Related Articles:
Microsoft to acquire Nokia's phone business for $7.2B
Report: Nokia to release Windows RT tablet with Lumia design and LTE
Moody's downgrades Nokia further into junk status
Rumor Mill: Nokia to release 6-inch Windows Phone phablet, codenamed 'Bandit'
Analysis: Ballmer's departure from Microsoft puts Windows smartphones, tablets in question
Report: Microsoft plan to buy Nokia's phone biz fell apart