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Ericsson’s finance chief steps down

26 октября 2007

Ericsson parted ways with its chief financial officer on Thursday as the telecommunications group sought to rebuild investor confidence after its recent profit warning and the subsequent plunge in its share price.

Ericsson’s finance chief steps downThe world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker said Karl-Henrik Sundström “has decided to leave Ericsson”. He would be replaced with immediate effect by Hans Vestberg, the head of global services.

The move followed Ericsson’s downward revision to its third-quarter earnings forecast that wiped out a quarter of its market value in one day – the worse share price collapse in the company’s history.

The profit warning rocked the investment community, which had been assured just one month earlier at an Ericsson conference for investors in London that the third-quarter numbers were healthy.

The departure of Mr Sundström will deflect criticism away from Carl-Henric Svanberg, chief executive, who has been under increasing pressure from investors since announcing the revised earnings forecast.

Announcing the third-quarter results on Thursday, Mr Svanberg praised the departing CFO, saying he had “ been instrumental in turning the company round”. Mr Vestberg, the new CFO, faces the daunting task of improving Ericsson’s reporting systems to ensure there are no more nasty surprises – something being de-manded by investors.

Ericsson’s main shareholders have increased pressure on the management following the profit warning although their confidence in the company is holding firm for now. They broadly back Ericsson’s explanation for the drop in earnings but have lambasted its inability to spot there was trouble on the horizon and communicate it to the market.

Ericsson blamed the collapse on “weaker sales of mobile network upgrades and expansions combined with continued high sales of new network build-outs”.

No details were offered on Thursday of how Mr Vestberg – one of the rising stars in the company at the age of 42 – plans to restore credibility in the company’s reporting systems. A full review is under way.

Ericsson’s final third-quarter figures were broadly unchanged from preliminary numbers last week. Net profit for the quarter fell 36 per cent to Skr3.97bn.

Ericsson’s shares fell 1.2 per cent to SKr18.94. The shares are still down 28 per cent from levels the day before the company made its profit warning on October 16.

Источник: Financial Times

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