Kone CEO Matti Alahuhta Steps Down After Shares Gain Sixfold

Kone Oyj Chief Executive Officer Matti Alahuhta, Finland’s highest-salaried executive, will step down on March 31 after overseeing a more than sixfold increase in the elevator maker’s market value.

Chief Financial Officer Henrik Ehrnrooth will succeed Alahuhta on April 1 and Eriikka Soederstroem will become CFO, the Espoo, Finland-based company said in a statement.

“My decision to leave Kone as President and CEO developed gradually during the last year,” said Alahuhta, 61. “I also wanted to leave at a moment, which gives me sufficient time for the next phase of my professional life.”

Alahuhta has more than doubled annual revenue and boosted net income more than sixfold since joining Kone in 2005. Under his leadership, the company focused on developing its service business and came up with innovations, including the ultra-light carbon-fiber rope.

Alahuhta previously worked at Nokia Oyj, helping it become the world’s biggest mobile-phone maker as the head of the handset unit. Nokia is currently seeking a new CEO after Stephen Elop stepped down following the September announcement that the handset unit is being sold to Microsoft Corp. Alahuhta has already decided on his next job and it won’t be a CEO role, he said at a press conference today, without elaborating.

Shares Gain

Kone shares climbed the most in more than four months, adding as much as 3.9 percent to 33.56 euros in intraday trading before paring the gain to 2.1 percent at 3:29 p.m. in Helsinki. Trading volume was more than double the three-month daily average. Fourth-quarter sales rose 9.4 percent to 2.03 billion euros ($2.77 billion) and net income increased 1.7 percent to 183 million euros.

Ehrnrooth joined Kone five years ago from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he worked as a managing director in the investment banking unit after 1998. Kone said net sales will grow as much as 9 percent this year and earnings before interest and taxes will be in the range of 980 million euros to 1.05 billion euros.

Kone shares have gained 504 percent since June 1, 2005, when the company spun off cargo-handling equipment maker Cargotec Oyj. Alahuhta was paid 3.45 million euros in 2012, the biggest salary in the country, state broadcaster YLE said Nov. 1, citing tax office data. The first elevator using the ultra-light rope was installed last year at the Marina Bay Sands towers in Singapore.