Ericsson shares highest for months following activist investor stake

Borje Ekholm Ericsson

Activist investor group Cevian Capital has acquired a 5.6% stake in struggling networking company Ericsson, resulting in a share price spike to the highest level for seven months.

Cevian describes itself as ‘an active ownership investment firm’, and has apparently acquired a significant minority stake in Ericsson in the hope of positively influencing the direction on the company. One immediate consequence is that Cevian co-Founder Christer Gardell now has a place on the nomination committee for the board of directors when it convenes next year.

Gardell clearly intends to use this position to try to shake the Ericsson board up a bit.“Just having lots of nice names on the board, you can’t think like that in Ericsson . . . It’s part of the problem we are facing, because the board has done a very poor job,” he told the FT.

“We see a significant potential in the company,” he said in a separate interview with Reuters. “It’s about hard work ahead. We support the main thrust of the plan that Borje [Ekholm – Ericsson CEO – pictured above] has presented for the company, meaning an increased focus on the core business. But plans are not enough to bring success, it is how the plans are implemented. And implementation has not been Ericsson’s strength as of late.”

Ericsson’s share price responded positively to the news, gaining a few percent to take it to the highest level it has been since the profit warning in October 2016. Most of the voting shares in Ericsson are held by a couple of Swedish investment groups, one of which also provided the current CEO. This apparent optimism presumably indicates an endorsement of Gardell’s assertion that some fresh ideas are needed.

In other Ericsson news the company has published a report assessing the impact of 5G on the future of healthcare. This has long been an area of interest for Ericsson, launching a collaboration with Kings College London on the topic a year ago and inviting representatives to show off their progress at this year’s MWC.

The report surveyed a bunch of smartphone users and decision makers across a bunch of related industries as part of its ConsumerLab. It’s called ‘From healthcare to homecare’, it was unveiled at Kings College once more (see photo) and can be accessed here.


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