Cargotec Appoints Finnair CEO Vehvilaeinen as New Chief

Cargotec Oyj named Mika Vehvilaeinen as chief executive officer as the Finnish supplier of cargo-handling equipment seeks to benefit from his logistics experience at Finnair Oyj and mobile-phone maker Nokia Oyj.

Vehvilaeinen, 51, will leave Finnair, the country’s biggest airline, after about three years as CEO to start at Cargotec on March 1 with an annual base salary of 600,000 euros ($807,000), the Helsinki-based port-crane and forklift manufacturer said in a statement today.

Cargotec has sought a new chief since October after then-CEO Mikael Maekinen changed jobs within the company to lead the listing of its marine unit in Asia scheduled by June 30. The company plans to keep a majority stake in the subsidiary.

“We’ve been restructuring the company, and now we’re heading into the construction phase,” Cargotec Chairman Ilkka Herlin said today at a Helsinki press conference. “It’s now time to harvest the fruits of all that hard work.”

Cargotec rose as much as 3.4 percent to 22.13 euros, the highest intraday price since Sept. 17, and was trading up 2.8 percent at 11:40 a.m. in Helsinki. Finnair fell 2 percent to 2.92 euros after dropping as much as 4.7 percent.

Plans Denied

Vehvilaeinen’s move was reported by Finnish business magazine Talouselaemae on Jan. 15, prompting both Cargotec and Vantaa-based Finnair to deny it at the time.

Finland’s government, which owns 55.8 percent of Finnair shares, doesn’t see the CEO’s shift as having an effect on potential ownership changes at the carrier, Heidi Hautala, the minister in charge of state shareholdings, said today in a statement.

Vehvilaeinen held several executive positions at Nokia, where he started in 1992, gaining experience in logistics and service development. His most recent task at the manufacturer before becoming Finnair CEO was as chief operating officer at the Nokia Siemens Networks joint venture with German engineering company Siemens AG.

Finnair appointed Ville Iho as deputy CEO to lead the carrier until a replacement is found, Finnair said. Vehvilaeinen resigned yesterday, according to the airline’s spokeswoman Arja Suominen. The airline said in October that it was widening a cost-reduction program after the project helped third-quarter net income surge to a record.

“I wouldn’t want to be seen as a restructuring director even though I’ve had to take on such tasks too,” Vehvilaeinen said at today’s press conference. “I’ve also built up and developed businesses, and I see Cargotec through opportunities. There is a lot of know-how, good products and a strong market position, and I believe we have all the opportunities for developing the business.”

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