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Vestberg quits as Ericsson chief

After a period during which he came under sustained criticism for his remuneration as well as his ability to lead the communications technology giant, Hans Vestberg has stepped down as Ericsson chief executive.

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Vestberg quits as Ericsson chief

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After a period during which he came under sustained criticism for his remuneration as well as his ability to lead the communications technology giant, Hans Vestberg has stepped down as Ericsson chief executive.

ericsson 25 july 2016Vestberg had been CEO since 2010 and will be replaced with immediate effect as president and CEO by current CFO Jan Frykhammar as an interim measure. Commenting on his departure, Vestberg said: “I have had 28 fantastic years at Ericsson, the last seven as CEO. As the industry enters a next phase, driven by 5G, IoT and Cloud, it is time for a new CEO to step in and continue the work to ensure Ericsson's industry leadership.”

Chairman of the Ericsson board, Leif Johansson added: “Hans Vestberg has led the company for seven years through significant industry and company transformation ... However, in the current environment and as the company accelerates its strategy execution, the board of directors has decided that the time is right for a new leader to drive the next phase in Ericsson's development.”

The search is on for a new exec who will have to tackle a number of issues, most notably reinvigorating revenues after a period in which like-for-like sales have fallen for seven consecutive quarters. In its last quarter ended 30 June 2016, Ericsson reported that sales decreased by 11% year-on-year, 7% when adjusting for comparable units and currency. It said that mobile broadband sales continued to decline particularly in markets impacted by a weak macro-economic environment. Gross margin declined to 32.3% (33.2%) year-on-year, mainly due to a larger share of mobile broadband coverage business with lower hardware margins, and a higher share of services business.

The company admitted that further actions were needed to reduce cost, targeting a new annual run rate of operating expenses, excluding restructuring charges, of SEK53 billion in the second half of 2017.