Nokia, the nearly 150-year-old Finnish company that early on focused on rubber, forestry and cables, is in the process of reinventing itself yet again.
On Friday, April 25, Nokia completed the $7.5 billion sale of its Devices and Services business to Microsoft. The company that was for years the worldwide leader in mobile phone sales, introducing the first smartphones to business users, while also giving millions of people in developing markets their very first connections to the Internet, for the first time in three decades has no hand in the mobile phone market.
What it will focus on, it has said, are three businesses: Networks (in July 2013 it bought out Siemens’ shares of the Nokia Siemens Network (NSN); its Here navigation and mapping suite; and Technologies, which includes its considerable patent portfolio, licensing arrangements and research activities.
Four days after completing of the handset sale, the company announced the appointment of Rajeev Suri, who had been CEO of NSN since 2009, as its new CEO.
“As Nokia opens this new chapter, the Nokia Board and I are confident that Rajeev is the right person to lead the company forward,” Riso Siilasmaa, chairman of the Nokia board of directors, said in a statement. “He has a proven ability to create strategic clarity, drive innovation and growth, ensure disciplined execution and deliver results.”
Suri described himself and the staff as about to embark on an “exciting journey.”
“Nokia, with its deep experience in connecting people and its three strong businesses,” he added, “is well-positioned to tap new opportunities during this time of technological change.”
More specifically, Nokia believes that over the next 10 years, “billions of devices will converge into intelligent and programmable systems that will have the potential to improve lives in a vast number of areas: time and availability, transportation and resource consumption, learning, work, health and wellness and many more,” it said in a statement.
The coming changes, Suri added, “will be as profound as the creation of the Internet.” With its three businesses, he added, Nokia is “well-placed to meet our goal to be a leader in the technologies for a world where everybody and everything is connected.”
The same day as Suri’s appointment, Nokia announced the results of its fiscal 2014 first quarter. Excluding its business with Microsoft, revenue was down, but posted a profit of $150 million, compared with a loss of $135.9 million a year ago. It also announced a buyback plan that will return approximately $4.1 billion to shareholders, while Suri streamlines the business and gets it efficiently working as a whole.
In a video on the Nokia site, Suri told investors, “The opportunities ahead of us are as great as I have ever seen.”