Skip to content

Growing discontent surfaces at Nokia annual meeting

Shareholders in Finland's biggest company worry that time is running out for the company to make a turnaround.

Nokian toimitusjohtaja Steven Elop ja hallituksen puheenjohtaja Risto Siilasmaa yhtiön tiedotustilaisuudessa ennen yhtiökokousta Helsingin Messukeskuksessa. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop faced disgruntled shareholders at Tuesday’s annual general meeting at the Helsinki Fair Centre. Many expressed dissatisfaction with the firm’s weakness compared to smartphone rivals Apple and Samsung – and its decision not to pay out any annual dividends. Company executives countered that Nokia needs to save cash for future investments.

Shareholders also took Nokia’s top brass to task for how it has handled its outsourcing.

In 2011, Elop said the transition to Windows software would take two years. That period is now over, and while recent results have shown growth in sales of Lumia smartphones using Windows Phone 8 software, the volumes pale in comparison with the top Samsung and Apple models, and sales of its regular mobile phones have plunged in the meantime.

"The road to hell"

"You're a nice guy...and the leadership team is doing its best, but clearly, it's not enough," shareholder Hannu Virtanen said to Elop. "Are you aware that results are what matter? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please switch to another road."

Despite such doubters, Elop repeated his commitment to Windows software.

"It's very clear to us that in today's war of ecosystems, we've made a very clear decision to focus on Windows Phone with our Lumia product line," he said. "And it is with that that we will compete with competitors like Samsung and Android."

Once again, Elop asked for shareholders to be patient.

"We had to re-orient the whole company to begin to move things in a different direction, which is why when we see numbers beginning to go up around the Lumia products, when we see growth and people adopting products, we say stick with it," he said. "We're on the right path to improve things. Because if we made a decision today to go on yet another road, then that momentum we're building would of course suddenly go down and everyone would be waiting for a new momentum to be established."