Nokia veteran Sari Baldauf takes over as 5G battle rages

The logo of Nokia is seen before the company’s news conference in Espoo, Finland March 2, 2020. Lehtikuva/Markku Ulander via REUTERS

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Sari Baldauf took over as chairwoman of telecoms equipment maker Nokia on Wednesday, succeeding Risto Siilasmaa who chaired the Finnish firm for eight years.

Baldauf, one of the most high-profile female executives in the global telecoms industry, faces a tough task to fight back in the 5G race, as rivals Ericsson and Huawei put pressure on its sales and cash reserves.

Chief Executive Rajeev Suri, who will later this year hand over to Pekka Lundmark, said the company will emerge from the coronavirus crisis stronger than before.

He told a video recording for investors the company had a strengthened supply chain with 25 factories around the globe and the pandemic had potentially created sales opportunities.

“At a time of huge appetite for connectivity, we are always looking for potential upsales,” Suri said.

Baldauf, 64, is the last remaining executive from former chairman and CEO Jorma Ollila’s team which in the late 1990s turned a Finnish company with a tiny tech unit into the world’s biggest cellphone maker.

Outgoing Chairman Risto Siilasmaa in his video to shareholders applauded Baldauf’s “wealth of experience” and said he was sure she would focus on “Nokia’s role as a critical enabler of the modern economy and the fourth industrial revolution”.

Reporting by Tarmo Virki, Anne Kauranen, and Supantha Mukherjee; editing by David Evans and Barbara Lewis

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