Microsoft CEO race hots up as Ericsson boss Hans Vestberg enters fray

Microsoft is looking at Ericsson chief executive Hans Vestberg as it continues to try and fill the void left by outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer.

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People briefed on the search quoted by Bloomberg stated that Vestberg is on a list that also includes Microsoft insider Satya Nadella, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop as well as “other outsiders.”

A decision sounds as though it is still far off though, with the same sources admitting that the people under consideration for the role are “still subject to change” and it follows Ballmer stating in August that it was his intention to retire within a year.

Vestberg has been at Ericsson since 1988. He was the firm’s CFO from 2007 to 2009 before becoming CEO in January 2010 and overseeing the dismantling of the Sony Ericsson joint venture with shares rising 19 per cent during his time in charge.

The process to find a new CEO is being led by the firm’s independent director John Thompson who stated back in December that it has narrowed down a list of over 100 candidates and is looking to complete the search in the “early part of 2014.”

Vestberg’s current employer, Ericsson, has been tight-lipped on the gossip and a spokesperson stated that they “never comment on rumours and speculation,” which accompanied a drop of 1.2 per cent in the share price in Stockholm.

Microsoft was equally silent on the latest rumour, with Bloomberg stating that Peter Wootton, spokesperson for the firm, had declined to comment or make executives available.

Microsoft’s search has been beset by various public set backs, with the likes of Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Oracle co-president Mark Hurd stating that they had no desire to take over from Ballmer.

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Before Vestberg, it had been rumoured the company had gone internal to find Ballmer’s successor and that Nadella and Elop topped the list, along with Tony Bates, with hints that an appointment was due to be made in February.