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Nokia appoints Suri as CEO, plans to spend billions of Microsoft cash

Nokia has picked the head of NSN Rajeev Suri as its new chief exec, and detailed how it will spend some of the money earned from the sale of its devices and services business to Microsoft.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

As expected, Nokia has appointed Rajeev Suri as its new president and CEO.

Rajeev Suri, Nokia CEO
Rajeev Suri. Image: Nokia

Following the €5.4bn sale of its devices and services unit to Microsoft last week, the rest of Nokia — its networking, mapping and Technologies units — will be headed up by Suri.

Until now, Suri had been CEO of NSN. Having joined Nokia back in 1995, Suri has led its NSN networking business since 2009, overseeing a major restructuring programme that took €1.5bn out of annual operating expenses, cut its workforce by around a quarter, and saw NSN divest itself of several business units not considered in tune with its "strategic focus".

Suri will take up the role of CEO from 1 May, taking over from interim CEO Risto Siilasmaa, who was filling in after Stephen Elop stepped down to lead the devices team at Microsoft.

"As Nokia opens this new chapter, the Nokia Board and I are confident that Rajeev is the right person to lead the company forward," said Siilasmaa, who will return to his role of chairman.

"He has a proven ability to create strategic clarity, drive innovation and growth, ensure disciplined execution, and deliver results. We believe that his passion for technology will help ensure that Nokia continues to deliver innovations that have a positive impact on people's lives."

Following the closing of the Microsoft deal on Friday, Nokia will hand over a series of dividends to its shareholders: €800m of ordinary dividends over this year and next, and a special dividend of €0.26 per share, or around €1bn in total, scheduled for 2014.

It's also planning to put the Microsoft cash towards cutting debt by €2bn in 2016, and repurchasing €1.25bn of shares next year.

Along with a number of execs that will leave Nokia to join Microsoft, Nokia announced a series of other departures. Its chief legal officer Louise Pentland, HR chief Juha Äkräs, and chief development officer Kai Öistämö are all leaving to "pursue opportunities outside Nokia".

Hans-Jürgen Bill joins the company as EVP of HR, Barry French EVP of marketing, and Maria Varsellona as chief legal officer, from 1 May.

With the devices and services unit gone, Nokia will be composed of three units: its mapping business Here, its patents and R&D arm known as Technologies, and its networking unit. The largest of the three, the networking business was historically known as NSN, but will in future just use the Nokia name.

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