Nokia CEO to step down, replaced by Fortum chief

HELSINKI (AFP) – Nokia’s chief executive officer Rajeev Suri will leave the telecom equipment provider in September and be replaced by the current head of Finnish energy group Fortum, Nokia announced yesterday.

Pekka Lundmark will take over on September 1, Nokia said.

Suri, who has been Nokia’s president and CEO since April 2014, had “indicated earlier to the board that he was considering stepping down from his role at some point in the future, provided a solid succession plan was in place,” the company said.

“After 25 years at Nokia, I have wanted to do something different,” Suri said.

Lundmark has also served as CEO of Konecranes, a global material-handling technology leader. Prior to that, from 1990-2000, he held various executive positions at Nokia, including vice president of strategy and business development at Nokia Networks.

Nokia’s share price rose by four per cent on the Helsinki stock exchange to EUR3.6 shortly after opening at 0800 GMT. The group has remade itself as a 5G network systems company since its mobile phone business was wiped out by Apple and Samsung.

Suri is behind Nokia’s recent transformation, including its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent and the creation of a standalone software business, and the return of the Nokia brand to mobile phones.

He also oversaw the launch of ‘Internet of Things’ products designed to revolutionise specific sectors, such as soil sensors for agriculture or tracking systems for logistics firms. However Nokia’s attempts to break into the 5G equipment market have faltered in the face of fierce competition from Huawei and Ericsson.

Last year Nokia downgraded its 2020 earnings forecast, while chief executive Suri played down the firm’s delays in delivering some equipment orders.

Nokia went on to beat expectations in a “challenging” 2019 and last month posted its first full-year net profit since 2015, of EUR7.0 million.

File photo shows Nokia’s chief executive officer Rajeev Suri briefs on Nokia’s 5G products. PHOTO: AFP