Nokia's Chairman to Step Down Next Year

Features Reuters

Nokia, the world's largest phone maker by volume, has started to look for a new chairman to succeed Jorma Ollila who will step down next year, Ollila said on Tuesday.

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Ollila led Nokia's transformation from a rubber boots and TVs conglomerate into a mobile phone giant in the 1990s but the Finnish technology giant has recently lost out in the smartphone market to newcomers Apple and Google. , "It was a tough year, and I expect the year ahead to be a tough one too," Ollila told the annual shareholders meeting.

"For a long time he did a great job at Nokia but then he made some mistakes that cost shareholders a fortune," said John Strand, founder and chief of Danish Strand Consult.

"Under Ollila Nokia was slow in smartphone development, not active in the fight with Apple and Google and failed to succed in the United States," Strand said.

Ollila joined Nokia in 1985, was chief executive between 1992 and 2006, and has been chairman since. He is also a chairman of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Shares in Nokia were 0.2 percent higher at 6.31 euros by 1430 GMT.

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PAINFUL SMARTPHONE MOVE

To turn around its smartphone fortunes, Ollila last year replaced his old colleague Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo with Canadian Stephen Elop, a unit chief from Microsoft.

In February Elop unveiled a shift in strategy in smartphones by adopting Microsoft's unproven operating software in preference to Nokia's own Symbian platform.

Elop on Tuesday reiterated that Nokia would receive billions from Microsoft as part of the deal, including substantial payments for the use of patents.

Uncertainty over the success of the Microsoft deal has driven Nokia shares down 25 percent since the deal was unveiled, and the stock is trading at a mere third of what it was worth three years ago.

"It has been very painful to be a Nokia shareholder for the past several years," said shareholder Pekka Voutilainen. Last week Nokia said it will axe 7,000 jobs, including outsourcing its Symbian software development unit, to cut 1 billion euros ($1.48 billion) in costs.

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