Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) nominated entrepreneur Risto Siilasmaa to succeed Jorma Ollila as chairman, signaling that key decisions at the world’s biggest mobile-phone company by handsets deliveries will stay in Finland.
Siilasmaa, 45, is chairman of security software maker F- Secure Oyj (FSC1V@FH), which he founded, and of telephone company Elisa Oyj. Known in Finland as a representative for entrepreneurs and business investors, he joined Nokia’s board in 2008.
Nokia investors lost more than 60 billion euros ($79 billion) in share value after Apple Inc. leapfrogged it with the iPhone. Siilasmaa will oversee Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop’s efforts to win customers as Apple and Google Inc. expand into new markets.
Ollila, 61, will retire, Nokia said in a statement. As CEO from 1992 to 2006, he transformed Nokia from an industrial conglomerate to the world’s top mobile-phone maker. He has been chairman since 1999. Last year, he replaced hand-picked CEO successor Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo with Elop, a Microsoft executive, to reverse the tailspin.
The fact that Nokia had been eclipsed in smartphones gradually became apparent to shareholders in the three years after the 2007 Apple iPhone introduction. Nokia’s debt ratings were cut last year by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s on concerns that a turnaround would take too long.
An investor in Finnish startups, Siilasmaa may also broker more tie-ups with new companies such as “Angry Birds” maker Rovio Entertainment Ltd.
“I don’t want to leave a fortune to my kids,” Siilasmaa told a panel on startup investment at Aalto University in September. “I want to spend it on startups.”
Siilasmaa started F-Secure, originally called Data Fellows, in 1988 as a student at the Finnish technology institute that is now Aalto University. The company listed shares on the Helsinki stock exchange in 1999, the last major high-tech company to join the stock exchange in the Nordic country.
He owned 39.73 percent of F-Secure as of Dec. 31, according to the company’s website. He has invested in Finnish startups including online shopping portal Fruugo Oy, together with Ollila, and micropayment supplier Ape Payment Oy, and worked with the Finnish government to establish startup incubators.
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