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Hans Vestberg, CEO designate, Ericsson

Ericsson CEO, Hans Vestberg

In June this year, when Carl-Henric Svanberg announced that he was standing down as the president and CEO of Swedish infrastructure vendor to become chairman of BP, he had already selected his successor; his CFO, Hans Vestberg.

An Ericsson employee since university graduation, Vestberg has held senior positions at the firm’s operations in Sweden, China, Brazil, Mexico and the US. Crucially, he has also served as head of the firm’s Global Services unit; a division that is increasingly central to Ericsson’s offering.

Ericsson leads the market in managed services, deriving one third of its revenues from the services unit and Vestberg will doubtless be keen to ensure its continued high performance. In July the firm signed a $5bn deal with US carrier Sprint that will see it maintain Sprint’s networks for a seven-year period.

Of the Western infrastructure suppliers, Ericsson has proven the most resilient to the downturn and to the onslaught of competition from China, not being forced into awkward marriages like Nokia Siemens and Alcatel Lucent. In a recent poll on telecoms.com, it was deemed second in the top three vendors most likely to survive future consolidation, with Huawei topping the list.

Ericsson already claims a lead in LTE and the firm has hitherto taken a strictly single track view of mobile standards. Vestberg will be unlikely to deviate from that track.

One quandary that remains for him, though, is what to do about the firm’s stake in the handset joint venture Sony Ericsson. While this started promisingly. It has long been rumoured that Ericsson has been keen to exit the JV and perhaps Vestberg, with a CFO’s ruthlessness, will sever the ties.

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