Nokia chief denies split loyalties

City A.M. Reporter
NOKIA CEO Stephen Elop yesterday dismissed insinuations that his loyalties were still with his former employer, Microsoft, because he owned shares in the software company and did not hold any Nokia stock.

“I am not a Trojan horse,” Stephen Elop said ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The decision to partner with Microsoft was made by the entire board of directors, he said.

On Friday, Nokia announced it was teaming up with Microsoft in what is seen as a last-ditch attempt to catch up with Google and Apple in the fast-growing smartphone market.

Asked if he still held shares in Microsoft, Elop said: “As an executive [at Microsoft], I have accumulated a substantive number of shares,” adding that he was legally prohibited to sell his shares for a certain time period after his departure but had since begun to divest his holdings.

However, once negotiations had begun with Microsoft he was once again not allowed to sell due to insider trading laws.

“I will get rid of them as soon as I am allowed,” Elop said, noting he was legally prohibited from buying Nokia shares for the time being, but would do so as soon as he could to demonstrate his confidence in the Finnish company.

Elop was drafted in from Microsoft in September to halt Nokia’s decline. As president of Microsoft’s Business Division and a member of its team responsible for overall strategy, he was hired for his software know-how.

The 47-year-old Canadian became the first non-Finn to head Nokia in its 145-year history, a sign of how Nokia seeks to transform itself to claim back market share and the innovative edge it has lost to Apple and other rivals.