India-born Rajeev Suri named Nokia CEO

Finland-based telecommunication gear maker Nokia Corp, which recently sold its mobile unit to software giant Microsoft Corp for about $7.5 billion, has named India-born Rajeev Suri as its president and chief executive officer to chart the company's future and revive growth, according to a statement. Also, Nokia said that it plans to pay $3.1 billion to shareholders via buybacks and extra dividends.

Suri, 46, will take charge as CEO of the company from May 1. This would mark the end to the company's seven-month-long search for a replacement for Stephen Elop, who returned to Microsoft with the sale of Nokia's handset unit last year.

"He has a proven ability to create strategic clarity, drive innovation and growth, ensure disciplined execution and deliver results. We believe that his passion for technology will help ensure that Nokia continues to deliver innovations that have a positive impact on people's lives," Nokia's chairman Risto Siilasmaa said in a statement.

The elevation of Suri comes after another India-born executive Satya Nadella was recently appointed as the chief of Microsoft Corp.

"Nokia, with its deep experience in connecting people and its three strong businesses, is well-positioned to tap new opportunities during this time of technological change. I look forward to working with the entire Nokia team as we embark on this exciting journey," Suri said.

Suri has been leading the company's network equipment unit named 'Nokia Solutions and Networks' (NSN) for four years and is credited for turning the unit around. The network unit was making losses but became profitable in 2012 after Suri brought down costs and shed unprofitable business. 

Last year, the unit contributed a major part of the $17.58 billion turnover Nokia made from its continuing operations. 

After selling its mobile handset making unit, Nokia is now putting its focus on its three remaining businesses that cover networks, navigation and patents. The company also said that it is eying to gain market share this year against industry leader Ericsson AB as well as Chinese rival Huawei Technologies.

Born in 1967, Suri is an electronics and telecommunications engineer from Mangalore University and graduated in 1989. He had started his professional life at Calcom Electronics and also worked with ICL India and Churchgate Group, Nigeria, before moving to NSN India as system marketing manager in 1995.

Since then, he served on a wide range of leadership positions at the company. Since October of 2009, Suri has been serving as CEO of NSN, the former joint venture between Nokia and Siemens that is now fully owned by Nokia.

Siilasmaa, who has also been serving as an interim CEO, would now return to focus exclusively on his role as chairman of Nokia's board. 

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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