The Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) board is considering Ericsson AB Chief Executive Officer Hans Vestberg as a potential successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, Bloomberg reported Wednesday evening, citing “people briefed on the search.”
Vestberg, 48, is in the running along with other candidates, said Bloomberg’s sources, who asked not to be identified. Microsoft cloud-computing chief Satya Nadella and former Nokia Oyj CEO Stephen Elop, as well as other outsiders, are also said to be on the list, which is still subject to change,
Microsoft’s lead independent director John Thompson, who is heading the search, wrote in a December blog post that the board aims to finish the search in the “early part of 2014.” He said the board started with more than 100 candidates and has since narrowed the list. Ballmer said last August that he planned to retire within a year.
“We never comment on rumors and speculation,” said Ola Rembe, a spokesman for Stockholm-based Ericsson. Peter Wootton, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment or to make executives available.
Any new CEO will have to turn around Microsoft, whose main software business is struggling. At the same time, the Redmond, Wash.-based company has made some headway in fast-growing markets like smartphones and tablets. Ballmer and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who together hold about 8 percent of the stock, are also on the board. Their presence has deterred some candidates, raising concern that a new CEO might lack independence, according to Bloomberg.
Some CEO candidates have declined or dropped out of the running, including Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally.