Business Watch: Sony Ericsson surgery

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It’s the question that the handset industry is now asking after the heavyweight duo was appointed to run the struggling handset vendor.

The management shake-up is designed to inject fresh blood into the boardroom of the Swedish-Japanese telecoms group as it tries to find a way back to profitability.

Ericsson executive Norberg is to become president and chief executive, replacing Hideki ‘Dick’ Komiyama, who is to step down unexpectedly early. Bert Nordberg (pictured) joins the joint venture from his role as the head of Ericsson’s US-based broadband and internet protocol unit.

The reshuffle will also see Sir Howard Stringer, the Sony chief executive, replace Ericsson chief Carl-Henric Svanberg as chairman of Sony Ericsson’s board, as Svanberg leaves to chair oil giant BP.

Stringer’s appointment has pricked up the ears of rivals to Sony Ericsson – which has failed to meet the lofty expectations that Sony and Ericsson had for it when they first formed the 50:50 joint venture.

Firstly, his appointment has fuelled rumours that the Japanese electronics and media giant may be preparing a takeover of the venture.

Secondly, it has been noted that the Sony president has overseen a sweeping cost-cutting programme at loss-making Sony, sparking talk that his new role could herald further blood-letting at Sony Ericsson.

Raising those expectations even higher, Svanberg has pointed to Nordberg’s “strong track record in the area of business realignment” and his “instrumental role” in the transformation of Ericsson in the years 2002-2003.

Full article in Mobile News issue 447 (September 7, 2009).

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