Nokia chairman announces resignation

The chairman of troubled mobile phone giant Nokia has said he will step down, just weeks after the company signed a deal to develop handsets for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system.

Jorma Ollila, who served as the company's chief executive from 1992 to 2006, announced he would step down within the next 12 months.

"It was a tough year, and I expect the year ahead to be a tough one too," Ollila told Nokia's annual Nokia shareholders' meeting on Tuesday.

Assuring shareholders that the company would not be thrown into turmoil by a hasty departures, Ollila told his audience: "I am committed to continue at the job and do my bit. Throwing in the towel due to earlier difficulties is not my way of doing things."

Ollila piloted Nokia's transformation from a company known for making rubber boots and TV sets, into the world's biggest-selling mobile manufacturer by volume - and, until it was overtaken this year by iPhone maker Apple, by revenue too.

Ollila was also behind the abrupt departure of his successor as CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, who was replaced last September by former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop.

Kallasvuo's ousting was prompted a belief by Ollila that Nokia had lost its way after the company's existing smartphone OS, Symbian, was left for dead by Apple's rival iOS and Google's Android, as well as other competitors such as Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS.

After taking the helm, Elop steered Nokia into a deal with Microsoft worth a reputed $1 billion to develop handsets for the software giant's Windows Phone 7 OS. The controversial agreement has seen the firm announce 4,000 job cuts - with more potentially in the pipeline.

In February, Elop described Nokia's earlier smartphone strategy as a "burning platform" in a leaked internal memo - but it's a crisis that some shareholders blame on the soon-to-depart Ollila.

"If Elop was hired to put out the fire, Ollila is the one who lit it," shareholder Matti Virtanen said at the meeting.

Nokia shares rose slightly on news of the Ollila's impending departure, but remain almost 25 per cent down in value since the company first announced the Microsoft deal in February - and stand at a third of their value three years ago.