Rajeev Suri will become the new chief executive of Finnish telecommunications gear maker Nokia, the company said on Tuesday, adding that it would return an extra 1 billion euros to shareholders from the sale of its phone unit. Suri, 46, until now led Nokia Solutions and Networks, the smaller network equipment unit of Nokia when the company still made mobile phones.
Suri is credited with turning the unit around, and last year it contributed most of the 12.7 billion euro ($17.58 billion) turnover Nokia made from its continuing operations.
Suri joined Nokia in 1995 and has held a wide range of leadership positions in the company. He is a graduate from the Manipal Institute of Technology, and will take over as Nokia CEO on May 1.
“Rajeev is the right person to lead the company forward,” Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa said in a statement. “He has a proven ability to create strategic clarity, drive innovation and growth, ensure disciplined execution, and deliver results.”
Last year, the NSN unit’s sales were 11.3 billion euros, while navigation unit HERE accounted for 914 million euros and its patent unit, dubbed advance technologies, 529 million euros.
Nokia finalised the around 5.4 billion euro ($7.5 billion) sale of its struggling mobile phone business to Microsoft (MSFT.O) on Friday. It said it would now focus on its three remaining businesses that cover networks, navigation and patents.
The network unit was long in the red, but turned profitable in 2012 after Suri slashed costs and shed unprofitable business.
Analysts say management now needs to concentrate on winning more contracts as higher research and development costs mean bigger, deep-pocketed rivals have an advantage.