Ericsson chief said to be candidate for Microsoft CEO

Hans Vestberg is among several candidates under consideration to replace departing CEO Steve Ballmer, Bloomberg reports.

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Hans Vestberg at the Mobile World Congress in 2012. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Microsoft has added the name of Hans Vestberg, chief executive of Ericsson, to the list of potential candidates to replace departing CEO Steve Ballmer, sources tell Bloomberg.

The 48-year-old chief of the telecom equipment maker is among several candidates under consideration to fill the position, the news agency reported, citing unidentified sources. Other possible successors on the list include former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Microsoft Executive VP Tony Bates, and Microsoft cloud and enterprise chief Satya Nadella.

Ballmer, who has led the company for the past 13 years, announced in August that he would retire within 12 months once a replacement is found who will carry out Microsoft's new vision of offering more devices and services. Seeking to make itself more competitive in the smartphone world, it makes sense that Microsoft would be considering a candidate with strong experience leading what was formerly one of the world's largest cell phone makers.

Vestberg, who has been with Ericsson for 25 years, became the Stockholm-based company's CEO in 2010 after serving as its chief operating officer from 2007 to 2009. As CEO, Vestberg oversaw the dismantling of Sony Ericsson, the company's 10-year mobile-phone joint venture with Sony, and the creation of a new focus on providing services to phone companies.

Ericsson completed a deal last September for Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV platform business, which provides the software that powers many of the world's leading Internet-delivered television services, such as AT&T's U-verse and Deutsche Telekom's Entertain.

Microsoft and Ericsson declined to comment for this report.

Updated 1/16, 11:50 a.m. PT with companies declining to comment.