HELSINKI: Jorma Ollila, who has been Nokia's board chairman since1999, stepped down Thursday, saying he regretted not leaving theFinnish mobile phone maker he has worked for the past 27 years inbetter shape. "Every board chairman would like to be able to leave his successorsa flourishing company. I would have hoped to do that," Ollila, whoalso served as Nokia's chief executive from 1999-2006, told thecompany's annual general meeting. Ollila, who remains board chairman at Royal Dutch Shell, had toldshareholders a year ago he would resign at Thursday's meeting, sohis departure came as no surprise. His successor, Risto Siilasmaa, who has been a Nokia board membersince 2008 and is the founder of Internet security companyF-Secure, was set to be voted in later Thursday at the meeting ofsome 3,300 of the company's shareholders. |
Nokia has been losing market share as it struggles to compete inthe smartphone sector, and Samsung recently bumped it from the topworld ranking in terms of total mobile phone sales, which it hadheld for 14 years. It announced disastrous first quarter results in April, posting anet loss of 929 million euros ($1.2 billion) as sales slumped 30percent year-on-year. The company's chief executive Stephen Elop met criticism from someshareholders over the major restructuring he launched early lastyear and the phasing out of Nokia's Symbian smartphones in favourof a partnership with Microsoft. One shareholder pointed to the recent 100-year anniversary of thesinking of the Titanic, stressing that he hoped there would not bea similar memorial for Nokia a century or so from now. Elop, a Canadian citizen and a former Microsoft executive, insistedthe partnership with Microsoft, which has produced a first line ofLumia smartphones, would pay off, but acknowledged morecost-cutting was ahead.
He compared Nokia to Finnish long-distance runner Lasse Viren, whofell during the 10,000-metre final at the 1972 Olympics but jumpedback onto his feet and ran on to take gold and break the worldrecord. In his farewell speech, Ollila supported Elop and his restructuringefforts. "The transition phase is really painful. There is no room forcomplacency," he said.
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