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Nokia names Rajeev Suri as new CEO

Former chief of the Nokia Solutions and Networks unit becomes the telecom gear maker's CEO as Microsoft closes its deal for Nokia's handset unit.

Nokia headquarters in Finland.
Nokia headquarters in Finland. Roger Cheng/CNET

On the heels of Microsoft's closure of its acquisition of Nokia's handset division, Nokia named Rajeev Suri as its new chief executive officer late Monday.

Suri, 46, takes over for Risto Siilasmaa, who had served as the Finnish telecommunications gear maker's interim CEO since the acquisition was announced last September. Siilasmaa, who is also Nokia's chairman, assumed the role when Stephen Elop stepped down as Nokia's CEO to return to Microsoft as head of its devices group.

"As Nokia opens this new chapter, the Nokia Board and I are confident that Rajeev is the right person to lead the company forward," Siilasmaa said in a statement. "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."

Suri joined Nokia in 1995, becoming the chief of its Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) unit in 2009. The unit, which sells products and services to companies around the world, is a former joint venture between Nokia and Siemens. In 2012, he oversaw the dismantling of that venture when Nokia bought out its German partner.

Suri will assume his new role on Thursday as Siilasmaa returns to his chairman-only role.

The company also announced a 5 billion euro ($6.9 billion) capital improvement program that will include resumption of ordinary dividends, distribution of excess capital to shareholders, share buyback, and debt reduction.

"We are committed to effective deployment of capital to drive future value creation," CFO Timo Ihamuotila said in a statement. "We believe our planned comprehensive EUR 5 billion capital structure optimization program enables Nokia to make quick and orderly progress towards a more efficient capital structure, and is aligned with the long-term interests of our customers and shareholders."

With the closure of Microsoft's $7.5 billion deal for Nokia's devices and services division closed Friday, Nokia has undergone a "transformational change," as Siilasmaa called it last September. Nokia will now focus on three business units: NSN, car dashboard navigation unit Here, and patent portfolio effort Advanced Technologies.