Ericsson's CEO Hans Vestberg has been named as one of the candidates Microsoft's board is considering as a successor to outgoing chief exec Steve Ballmer.
With Ford's CEO lan Mulally now out of the picture, Microsoft's slower than expected hunt for a new CEO has produced the unexpected candidate. Vestberg, CEO of the Swedish network vendor since 2010, at 48 is a decade younger than Ballmer.
According to Bloomberg, people familiar with Microsoft's CEO search said Vestberg is being considering alongside other candidates, such as former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Microsoft's current cloud head, Satya Nadella.
In December Microsoft said it had narrowed the list of candidates down to 20 individuals, and that it expected to announce the new CEO in early 2014.
Since then, one of the tipped favourite successors, former VMware chief Paul Maritz, also a former Microsoft exec, has bowed out of the race. Others still thought to be in contention include former Skype boss Tony Bates, and Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner.
Bloomberg notes that Ericsson's shares have risen 19 percent under Vestberg.
Vestberg also oversaw the separation of the company's 10-year mobile devices joint venture with Sony under the Sony Ericsson brand, which was originally established to take on Nokia.
Last September, Ericsson, second only to Huawei in the network equipment market, completed the acquisition of Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV, integrating it in the unit that helps carriers monetise TV content.