Microsoft considers Ericsson CEO for top job - report

SAN FRANCISCO/STOCKHOLM Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:50pm IST

Hans Vestberg, president/CEO of Ericsson Group, speaks during a panel discussion at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 7, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Hans Vestberg, president/CEO of Ericsson Group, speaks during a panel discussion at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Steve Marcus

Related Topics

Stocks

   

SAN FRANCISCO/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) is considering Ericsson (ERICb.ST) Chief Executive Hans Vestberg as a possible successor to outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, Bloomberg reported, citing sources briefed on the software giant's executive search.

The dynamic 48-year-old Swede fits the bill as a media-savvy technology fanatic, but his emergence as a leading candidate for the U.S. company will still come as a surprise to many on Wall Street.

Vestberg, a former elite-level handball player, worked his way through the ranks at the world's largest mobile telecoms equipment maker, with stints in China, Brazil, Mexico and the United States en route to becoming chief financial officer before taking the top job in 2010.

But he has struggled to convince investors that Ericsson can maintain its lead in mobile networks in the face of stiff competition from rivals such as China's Huawei HWT.UL.

Since Vestberg took the helm, the company's shares have underperformed the sector. Though the share price has risen 19 percent, in line with Microsoft, that compares with a leap of nearly 60 percent for the Stoxx Europe 600 Technology Index .SX8P over the same period and a 41 percent rise for Sweden's blue-chip index .OMXS30.

Both Microsoft and Ericsson declined to comment on Bloomberg's report, though a source close to the U.S. company has said that no CEO appointment is likely until the last week of January at the earliest.

Furthermore, Microsoft might prefer a candidate with more experience in consumer products as it tries to take the fight to market leaders Apple (AAPL.O) and Samsung (005930.KS) in handsets and tablets after its purchase of Nokia's (NOK1V.HE) mobile phone business.

Vestberg was in charge of Ericsson's exit from its handset joint venture with Sony two years ago, ending the company's association with consumer products.

"I don't think it's very likely that they will choose Vestberg," said Bengt Nordstrom, head of Swedish telecoms consultancy Northstream.

"It's more logical that they will find a U.S. leader, from their network of owners, board members and experienced CEOs with a software, enterprise and media background. There's enough with talent and experience in the U.S. market."

LIMITED OPTIONS

Since Microsoft's Ballmer announced his retirement plans last August, analysts have discussed potential candidates ranging from company insiders Satya Nadella and Tony Bates to several outsiders.

But speculation refocused on internal choices this month after the leading external candidate, Ford Motor Co (F.N) CEO Alan Mulally, took himself off the list.

Sources familiar with the company have told Reuters that, with Mulally out of the running, the list of candidates able to run a globe-spanning software corporation struggling to expand into the mobile software and devices markets is thin.

Analysts say that Microsoft may have to look at "dark horse" candidates, but noted that some widely touted executives in the technology sector, including Pivotal Inc CEO Paul Maritz, have already declined to take the job.

In a blog post on Microsoft's website last month lead independent director John Thompson, who is spearheading the search, emphasised the need for a CEO with good technology credentials and "an ability to lead a highly technical organisation and work with top technical talent".

(Additional reporting by Olof Swahnberg and Simon Johnson; Editing by Eric Walsh and David Goodman)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Mt Gox Update

Mt Gox Update

Mt Gox set to liquidate as court denies rehabilitation.  Full Article 

New Culture

New Culture

New CEO Nadella pushes data culture at Microsoft.  Full Article 

Upbeat on S5

Upbeat on S5

Samsung executive says Galaxy S5 to outsell S4, sees Q2 rollout for Tizen phone.  Full Article 

Mobile Safety

Mobile Safety

Smartphone makers, carriers embrace anti-theft initiative.  Full Article 

Bitcoin Saga

Bitcoin Saga

Defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox files for liquidation - WSJ.  Full Article 

Yahoo Result

Yahoo Result

Yahoo's growth anemic as turnaround chugs along.  Full Article 

Tech Acquisition

Tech Acquisition

Twitter buys social data provider Gnip, stock soars.  Full Article 

Leave Steve Out

Leave Steve Out

Keep Steve Jobs' personality out of trial - tech companies.  Full Article 

Beating Estimate

Beating Estimate

Intel's first-quarter net profit falls but beats Street.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage