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Huge payday for exiting Nokia CEO

Sep 22, 2013, The New York Times: 23:48 IST
Stephen Elop
It was Stephen Elop who, as Nokia’s chief executive, deepened the Finnish telecommunications firm’s ties to Microsoft by agreeing to bind itself to the Windows Phone operating system.

Now that Microsoft is buying full control of the Nokia cellphone business for $7.2 billion, Elop is set for a big payout.

Nokia disclosed on Thursday that its now-former chief is expected to collect about 18.8 million euros, or $25.5 million, as he prepares to leave the company and rejoin Microsoft.
As outlined in materials for a shareholder vote on the deal, the payment would be composed of 4.1 million euros in salary and management incentives, 100,000 euros in benefits and stock awards valued at about 14.6 million euros. About 70 percent of Elop’s payment will be covered by Microsoft, with Nokia responsible for the remainder.

It is an expensive goodbye for the executive, who collected $6.2 million to go to Nokia from Microsoft in the first place.

In his three years at the Finnish company, Elop took the bold, though often criticized, move of committing to Microsoft’s phone software as the companies struggled to gain traction in the smartphone sector. Nokia’s handsets, which previously ran a variety of homegrown operating systems, have steadily lost ground to a wave of phones running Google’s Android as well as Apple’s iPhone.

During Nokia’s negotiations with Microsoft this year, the Finnish company sidelined Elop and designated its chairman, Risto K Siilasmaa, as its point person in the talks. Under the terms of the handset transaction, Elop will leave Nokia and become the head of Microsoft’s handset business once the deal closes. To avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, he gave up the title of chief executive and became executive vice president for devices and services.

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