Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila today confirmed that plans to resign in 2012, marking more sweeping changes as the company tries to win back leadership of a complex market with new smartphones.
Nokia spokeswoman Arja Suominen said Tuesday that Ollila has said he would be “at the disposal of the company” until the annual general meeting of the company in spring 2012. Last week, Nokia announced that CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo will be replaced by Stephen Elop, who heads Microsoft’s business division, as president and chief executive Sept. 21.
Nokia didn’t ascribe reasons to Ollila’s planned departure in 2012. Ollila, 60, was CEO for 14 years until 2006 and has been chairman since 1999. Nokia sells 34% of the world’s mobile phones, but has struggled against other smartphone makers and has seen a 70% decline in share price over the past three years. Nokia’s U.S. troubles are partly due to competition from the iPhone and a variety of new Android phones and BlackBerry smartphones.
Each of the men leaving Nokia is credited with having helped make Nokia the largest cell phone maker in the world. However, each of them also has been around during a period of decline for the company – decline to the tune of Nokia’s stock price sliding down 70 percent over the past three years, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
And though many see the series of departures as a bit of upheaval for Nokia in a time of increasing competition from Apple, Google and other smartphone makers, others view it as an opportunity. In particular, it is an opportunity for Elop to come in and make his mark more immediately. Ollila’s departure will be sure to hasten that process.