Nokia chairman expected to stay on until 2012
HELSINKI (AP) -- Nokia Corp. said Tuesday that board chairman Jorma Ollila has signaled readiness to stay on at the helm of the world's leading handset maker until 2012.
Nokia spokeswoman Arja Suominen said that no announcement had been made but that Ollila has said he would be "at the disposal of the company" until the annual general meeting of the company in spring 2012.
Last week, Nokia said that CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo will be replaced by Stephen Elop, who heads Microsoft's business division, as president and chief executive on Sept. 21.
At a news conference introducing Elop, Ollila said the board had asked him to stay on as chairman for a transitionary period.
"The board did want me to continue because this is a particularly difficult time. My time will be up soonest," Ollila told reporters on Sept. 10, but added that "no time set."
Nokia's announcement Friday came after its stock had continued to plunge - down more than 20 percent this year after two profit warnings - and the company's management had come under increasing pressure.
On Tuesday, Nokia presented new telephones and applications for its handsets, hoping to get back into the high-end smart phone race.
"Today our fight back to smart phone leadership shifts into high gear," said Niklas Savander, executive vice president of Nokia's markets unit said at the Nokia World event in London. "Despite new competition, Symbian remains the most widely used smart phone platform in the world."
The company unveiled three new smart phones - the C6, C7 and E7 - with price tags ranging from euro260 to euro495.
But markets were not impressed, and Nokia stock closed down more than 3 percent in Helsinki at euro7.64 ($9.82).
Neil Mawston, from Strategy Analytics in London said the new handsets meant a "step forward, rather than a leap" for the Finnish company.
"They are not iPhone killers just yet. It closes the gap, rather than overtakes them," Mawston said. "Nokia still clearly has got some way to go in improving design and overall user experience."
After last week's announcement of Kallasvuo's dismissal, Nokia's mobile solutions business chief Anssi Vanjoki said that he too will leave the company.
Vanjoki is a board member and in charge of top-end mobile phones - an area Nokia is keen on improving as it tries to rival Apple Inc., Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerrys and Google Inc.'s Android software. He will remain for a six-month notice period, Nokia said.
Vanjoki, who joined Nokia 20 years ago and has been a board member since 1998, said Monday he felt "the time has come to seek new opportunities in my life."
Before his current position he headed the markets division and multimedia group, and had previously been seen as a potential successor to outgoing Kallasvuo but drifted away from the top management when the company reshuffled responsibilities earlier this year and Mary McDowell was appointed top chief of the mobile phones business.
During Kallasvuo's leadership investors had long been expecting something fresh and new from the company that once had the innovative edge in the industry, but that has not happened. He has also been unable to tackle problems in the North American market, the company's worst performer, despite a pledge to make it a top priority.
Markets have also not been impressed by Symbian, which is older than Apple's software and wasn't designed from the ground up for touch screen phones. Other manufacturers that used Symbian have mainly jumped ship to Android.