Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com
Nokia announced that president and CEO Rajeev Suri is stepping down after more than a decade in the leadership role at Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks. Pekka Lundmark, currently the president and CEO of Fortum, a leading Finnish energy company, was named as the successor to Suri. Lundmark is expected to start his new role on September 1.
The Finnish networking company said that Suri had indicated to the board that he planned to step down and had been working with them to ensure a smooth transition. Suri will leave his current role on August 31 and continue to serve as an advisor to Nokia’s board until January 1, 2021.
“After 25 years at Nokia, I have wanted to do something different,” said Suri in a statement. “Nokia will always be part of me, and I want to thank everyone that I have worked with over the years for helping make Nokia a better place and me a better leader. I leave the company with a belief that a return to better performance is on the horizon and with pride for what we have accomplished over time. Pekka is an excellent choice for Nokia. I look forward to working with him on a smooth transition and wish him the best success in his new role.”
During his tenure, Suri led a turnaround of the company’s business, including divesting non-core assets, growing its patent licensing business and overseeing Nokia’s $16.6 billion acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent in 2015, which positioned the company to be the second largest telecommunications infrastructure company in the world behind Swedish giant Ericsson.
“With the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent behind us and the world of 5G in front of us, I am pleased that Pekka has agreed to join Nokia,” said Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia Board Chair in a statement. “He has a record of leadership and shareholder value creation at large business-to-business companies; deep experience in telecommunications networks, industrial digitization, and key markets such as the United States and China; and a focus on strategic clarity, operational excellence and strong financial performance.”
The leadership change comes on the heels of a recent report by Bloomberg that Nokia is considering strategic options ranging from potential asset sales to merger deals as it struggles amid intense competition. The company’s shares have lost a third of their value over the past year. Nokia is also in a race with rivals Ericsson and China’s Huawei to build 5G technologies. U.S. Attorney General William Barr urged the U.S. and its allies last month to consider investing in Nokia and Ericsson to counter Huawei’s dominance in 5G technology, fueling speculation of merger and acquisition activities.