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Nokia close to picking new CEO: Will NSN chief get the nod?

Rajeev Suri looks set to run the post-handset Nokia, having steered its networking unit NSN for a number of years.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Nokia is reportedly close to choosing its next CEO, the chief exec that will lead the company once the €5.4bn sale of its devices and services business to Microsoft has closed.

According to Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Nokia's board of directors intends to appoint Rajeev Suri to the post. Suri is current head of NSN, Nokia's networking unit and the largest of the three businesses that will remain part of Nokia once the Microsoft deal goes through.

A long-standing Nokian, Suri joined the company in 1995, working in a series of networking-related jobs since then including heading up Nokia Networks' (Nokia's networking business before its subsequent merger with Siemens networking unit in 2007) Asia Pacific business and NSN's services chief. He was appointed head of the company in 2009.

Under Suri's leadership, the company has undertaken 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". These sales were the main cause of a 22 percent year on year fall in revenue in its most recent set of quarterly results, according to NSN.

If appointed, Suri will take over from Risto Siilasmaa, who was appointed CEO after Stephen Elop stepped down from the role when the proposed devices unit sale was announced last September.

The board intend to appoint Suri once the sale has gone through, Helsingin Sanomat reported. Nokia declined to comment on the rumoured appointment.

Microsoft and Nokia had predicted that the devices and services sale would close in the first quarter of this year – with two weeks left until the quarter closes, it remains to be seen that the pair will meet the self-imposed deadline. It's thought that concerns expressed by Chinese and other phone makers to the country's regulators about how Nokia will handle its patent portfolio in future could be holding up the deal's closing. 

Nokia has repeatedly addressed such concerns publicly, with the CTO of its Advanced Technologies unit telling ZDNet recently that aggressively milking its existing portfolio is "not a very sustainable, or a very wise, business".

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