Ericsson's Vestberg latest name to be linked with Microsoft CEO role

By Sooraj Shah
16 Jan 2014 View Comments
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg

Hans Vestberg, CEO of Swedish firm Ericsson, is the latest name to be linked with the soon-to-be-vacant Microsoft CEO role.

Microsoft, who have been looking for a successor to Steve Ballmer since he announced his plans to retire in August, are said to be looking at Vestberg as well as other candidates, people who have been briefed on the search told Bloomberg.

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Vestberg, 48, joined Ericsson in 1988, becoming CFO in 2007 and CEO in January 2010. He has seen a rise in revenues and shares under his stewardship, while leading the company through the Sony Ericsson break-up.

Sources said that Microsoft's head of enterprise software, Satya Nadella and former Nokia Oyj CEO Stephen Elop are also on the list.

Microsoft director John Thompson, who was charged with leading the search for a new CEO, admitted in December that an appointment will not be made until early 2014 at the earliest.

The task to secure a new CEO has so far been plagued with difficulties. Last week, Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally - thought to be a leading contender - ruled himself out of the race.

He had been regarded as the type of turnaround expert that Microsoft investors are looking for in a CEO, someone to help to revitalise the software division and enable Microsoft to make headway in the mobile market.

But a key stumbling block may have been Microsoft chairman Bill Gates saying that he wants a CEO with the "ability to lead a highly technical organisation and work with top technical talent" - skills that Mulally has not been associated with.

Sources familiar with the candidates told Bloomberg that the presence of both Gates and Ballmer on the Microsoft board has put off some candidates because they believe that the job may not be a completely independent role.

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