Report: Microsoft considers Ericsson's Vestberg to replace Ballmer as CEO

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) CEO Hans Vestberg is in the running to take the reins as chief executive at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) from Steve Ballmer, who is retiring within the next few months, according to a Bloomberg report.

hans vestberg ericsson microsoft ceo


The report, which cited unnamed sources, said that Vestberg is being considered alongside the likes of Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Stephen Elop and Microsoft cloud-computing chief Satya Nadella, as well as other outsiders.

Ericsson and Microsoft declined to comment, according to the report.

John Thompson, Microsoft's lead independent director and the man leading the search for Ballmer's successor, wrote in a December company blog post that the board plans to complete a search in the "early part of 2014." He said the board started with more than 100 candidates and has since narrowed the list. Ballmer first said last August that he planned to retire within a year.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally has publicly taken himself out of consideration for the Microsoft CEO spot, and other CEO candidates have included Microsoft Executive Vice President Tony Bates and COO Kevin Turner.

For Vestberg to jump from Ericsson to Microsoft it would be an abrupt shift. Ericsson, like Microsoft, deals with enterprise customers, but is primarily a networking and managed services company. Ericsson sold its stake in handset maker Sony Ericsson to Sony, getting itself out of the consumer devices business. Meanwhile, Microsoft is in the process of completing a $7.4 billion deal to buy Nokia's handset business, turning itself into a major device maker to complement its software.

The Bloomberg report should be taken with a bit of salt, especially because the rumors swirling around Ballmer's successor have drawn in a wide range of potential candidates. Bloomberg reported in December that Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) COO Steve Mollenkopf was a candidate to succeed Ballmer--a day before Qualcomm announced that Mollenkopf would succeed Paul Jacobs as CEO in March.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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