Nokia’s operations head for India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA), D Shivakumar has quit the Finnish handset major after an eight-year stint with the firm citing personal reasons that include health concerns.
Shiv, as he is popularly known among industry peers, moved to Dubai in January last year to head IMEA region of Nokia. He will now head back to India.
Shivakumar’s resignation comes in at a crucial time when the Finland-headquartered Nokia is embroiled in a tax evasion case in India wherein the I-T department had on March 21 issued a Rs. 2,000-crore demand notice. Nokia eventually got a stay from the Delhi High Court.
However, both Nokia and Shivakumar ruled out any relation between the two. “It is just a coincidence. In fact, I had been contemplating to step down for around a month now,” Shivakumar told HT over phone from Dubai.
There would be something happening at whatever time he decided to step down, he added. “It is a mere coincidence that my stepping down comes at a time of tax litigation in India.”
He will stay till June 30 to ensure a smooth transition before passing on the baton to Arto Numella, Nokia’s current vice-president for smart devices in America region. Numella will join on May 1 and work with Shivakumar for a month before taking independent charge.
Shivakumar refuted rumours that he may join any of rival telecom or handset makers.
“When I quit HUL eight years back I was very clear about not joining any rival consumer products firm. I joined Nokia instead. This is because I do not want to be seen as a mercenary who has traded his conscience for a few extra dollars. I can say the same statement today as well,” he said.
From being the undisputed leader in the handset space with over 70% marketshare to a point where its consumer base is eroding fast thanks to Samsung and Apple at the premium end and Chinese-made firms at the lower end, Shivakumar’s stint has been a mixed big. Nokia, however, recently made a valiant comeback in the smartphone area with its Asha and Lumia series.
“Since starting in 2006 Shiv has been fully dedicated to the company, playing an integral role in Nokia’s growth in India and beyond,” Chris Weber, executive vice-president, sales and marketing, Nokia, said in a statement.