Nokia Plans Executive Shake-Up

Nokia Plans Executive Shake-Up

Nokia is planning to replace several key executives as part of a major corporate shake-up, in an attempt to revamp the struggling company, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Finnish phone maker’s chief executive Stephen Elop, who came aboard from Microsoft, is finalizing plans to let go several members of its executive board, including Mary McDowell, head of its handset unit, and Niklas Savander, manager of the markets group.

Nokia has tapped executive recruiting firms to help it fill the vacant positions, including the head of research and development division and its operating systems group, these sources said. Elop will brief the executives on Thursday and announce the names at an analysts’ meeting on Friday.

“The game has changed from a battle of devices to a war of eco-systems and competitive eco-systems are gaining momentum and share,” Elop said at an investor’s meeting last week. “We must build, catalyze or join a competitive eco-system.”

Nokia, which still dominates the low-end handset market, has been losing market share in the lucrative smartphone sector to Apple and Google. Continuing to push Symbian, despite being regarded as outdated, the company will soon decide whether to stay the course or jump to another operating system, these people said. Expectations are that Nokia will team up with Microsoft, another battered player, instead of joining forces with Google.

In addition, Nokia is currently formulating a U.S. strategy, after largely failing to make inroads in the region. Six months ago, it began searching for a new head of North America, and has narrowed its choices down to three candidates, another person said. These prospects have been put on hold as Elop determines the restructuring plans.

After coming aboard in September, Elop has made drastic changes to turn around the embattled handset maker, cutting jobs, hiring Jerri DeVard, formerly from Verizon, as its new chief marketing officer, and asking several key executives to leave, such as Anssi Vanjoki, who heads its smartphone division and Ari Jaaksi, its MeeGo chief.

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