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Motorola hires Jha to get handset biz out of a pickle

Ex-Qualcomm COO gets Moto co-CEO role

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Motorola has finally found a new CEO for its ailing handset division, after tempting Sanjay Jha away from mobile chip giant Qualcomm.

Jha takes also picks up the title co-CEO of Motorola, alongside Greg Brown, who will also head up its Broadband Mobility Business.

Normally any hint of democracy at the top of a company spells trouble, but in this case the dual CEO set-up is in preparation for the eventual spin-off of the mobile division as a separately listed company.

Jha, 45, joined Qualcomm in 1994, quickly working his way up to VP of engineering in 1997, and was most recently, COO. No doubt he knows the mobile industry inside out – or least those parts of it which Qualcomm dominates.

He’ll need every bit of knowledge he has to turn around the soon-to-be-independent Motorola unit. The mobile devices division turned in sales of $3.3bn for its most recent quarter, down 22 per cent on the year. Just to add to its woes, last year’s $332m operating loss swelled to a $346m loss this year.

Presumably, Jha was involved in Qualcomm’s own handset business before the silicon firm pulled out of that market some years ago. Observers will no doubt be watching closely to see whether Jha starts to steer Motorola closer to his former employer. However, given that Qualcomm has only just settled its long-running spat with Nokia, it would hardly want to enrage its customers again – for now anyway. ®

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