Nokia's Chief Designer to Leave Following Microsoft Purchase

Written by Edward Chester

September 3, 2013 // 9:30 a.m.

Tags: #marko-ahtisaari #microsoft #nokia

Nokia's Senior Vice President for Design, Marko Ahtisaari, has announced he will be leaving the company following its takeover by Microsoft.

Ahtisaari will be leaving to pursue "entrepreneurial opportunities" and will be replaced by Stefan Pannenbecker. The announcement comes on the same day that Microsoft revealed it will be buying the mobile phone division of Nokia for €5.44 billion (£4.6bn).

Although Ahtisaari hasn't explicitly stated the move is as a consequence of the Microsoft deal the timing will leave many people in little doubt, with employees in Finland already unhappy at the direction Nokia has taken recently.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who is now widely tipped to takeover as Microsoft CEO when Steve Ballmer departs next year, spoke to investors and employees in Finland earlier today to reassure that Nokia would still have a presence in Finland, with the mobile phone division set to stay there. However, the silence that greeted him as he took to the stage spoke much of the feelings of the locals.

As for Ahtisaari, who joined Nokia back in 2011, his departure is sure to be a blow to Microsoft's plans. Nokia's hardware design has been key to keeping the company relevant in the last few years, with its phones still finding favour despite its own Symbian software and then Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system both failing to capture the public's imagination.

Although Microsoft has proven it is more than capable of designing good hardware, with the likes of the Surface tablet being impressive, it will still be keen for there to be some continuity in its phone design team, and will be even more keen that Ahtisaari's departure isn't a sign of things to come.

Update:
Other personnel movements have since come to light.

Current Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will leave the company to take up the role of Executive VP of Devices & Services at Microsoft, where he will be joined by Jo Harlow (Executive VP, Smart Devices), Chris Weber (Global Sales and Marketing), Juha Putkiranta (Executive VP, Operations) and Timo Toikkanen (Executive VP, Mobile Phones). Chairman of the Board Risto Siilasmaa will become interim CEO of Nokia.

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