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Nokia appoints Rajeev Suri as CEO

The Finnish company plans a $1.4 billion special dividend and share-repurchase program, as the company is flush with cash after the sale of its handset division to Microsoft.
By Ananth Baliga   |   April 29, 2014 at 11:18 AM   |   Comments

STOCKHOLM, Finland, April 29 (UPI) -- Days after handing over its handset business to Microsoft, Nokia appointed Rajeev Suri as CEO. Suri formerly headed Nokia's networks division, which will now be the main focus of the company.

The 143-year-old company was famous for its handsets, but will now focus on wireless-network equipment as it plans to dole out $5.9 billion in dividends, share buybacks and debt reduction. Suri pledged to distribute more than $4 billion to investors from the proceeds of the sale of its struggling handset business.

"With the closing of our transaction with Microsoft, Nokia begins a new era," chairman Risto Siilasmaa said in a statement. "Nokia's vision is to be a leader in technologies which will be important in a world of billions of intelligent connected devices."

"I believe Rajeev is the right person to lead Nokia forward, and that his passion for technology will help ensure that Nokia continues to deliver technologies that have a positive impact on people's lives," he added.

Suri also said the cash could now be used to make smaller acquisitions to fill holes in its product portfolio. Apart from the handset business, Nokia now has three other major businesses -- the wireless networks division, its maps business and the unit responsible for licensing its patents.

Suri's appointment caused the Nokia stock to jump sharply, the highest in six months. Suri has spent 20 years at Nokia dealing with the networks division including strategy, mergers and acquisitions, sales and marketing before becoming its head in 2009.

“Suri is a strong choice as CEO,” said Hannu Rauhala, an analyst at Pohjola Bank in Helsinki. “The industry is going through a major shift to software-defined networking so he certainly has plenty of work ahead of him.”

Despite the small uptick in its stock, Nokia posted disappointing results for the first quarter. Revenues fell to $3.7 billion in the first three months of the year. Nokia also had $452 million in operating losses compared to $120 million during the same quarter a year earlier.

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