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De-Finnistration: Nokia to shift HQ to US?

Elop's radical plan

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Exclusive Well-placed sources at Nokia suggest Stephen Elop is considering shifting the executive centre of gravity to Silicon Valley, creating a virtual HQ in the United States. The move would be as radical as any of those made by his predecessors in the company's 150-year history.

Elop became Nokia's first non-Finnish CEO in September, and his plans remain a closely-guarded secret until Friday's analyst briefing. Weekend reports suggest a purge of Nokia's executive board is imminent, with Finnish veterans tipped to take the brunt of the changes.

The move would oblige the Executive Board to spend most of their time outside Finland, accelerating the process of "de-Finnistration".

Elop has identified a lack of competitiveness, "ecosystems" and the sprawling bureaucracy as Nokia's key problems. In a memo to staff he says neither Meego nor Symbian are competitive enough. Elop is also said to believe the company has become too remote from key markets.

Nokia moved into its current HQ in Espoo in the 1980s. The executive changes wouldn't directly affect Nokia's Tampere facility, some 150km to the North, where much of Nokia's development takes place.

Nokia's US efforts were clustered around Irving, near Dallas, Texas, but this is no longer the hive of activity it once was - Nokia's US market share fell from 35 per cent in 2002 to eight per cent last year. The company moved into its new Valley HQ in Sunnyvale office in December.

Nokia's Espoo HQ

Nokia's predecessors took radical steps to transform the 150-year old company. The late CEO Kari Kairamo put Nokia on a high-tech acquisition strategy in the 1980s, while Jorma Olilla shed many of the company's legacy industrial businesses, and later ditched the consumer electronics and computing products.

Middle management and the ailing Ovi services are also expected to be whacked as Elop unveils his new vision. Stay tuned. ®

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