Ericsson shareholders ‘to replace chairman’

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Two major investors in Ericsson are unhappy with chairman Leif Johansson, says a Swedish business newspaper

Two major shareholders in Ericsson are wanting to replace the company’s chairman, Leif Johansson, according to a report in Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

The business newspaper reports that CEO Hans Vestberg’s exit from the company in July was “just the beginning of changes within Ericsson” and that “discontent is high both in the stock market and internally in the company”.

The main shareholders that are unhappy with Johansson are the two investment groups Industrivärden and Investor, says the newspaper – with Industrivärden CEO Helena Stjernholm “said to be very critical of how the board of Ericsson done its job”, added the newspaper, citing “several sources” for its story, though it did not name them.

The main shareholders – which were responsible for Vestberg’s departure – are critical of the fact that Ericsson’s shares have fallen 25% in the five years since Johansson became chairman, while the Stockholm stock exchange index has risen 45% in the same period. Johansson’s board approved significant bonuses to Vestberg while Ericsson lost market share to Huawei.

In addition, they are raising questions about Johansson’s previous role as CEO of Volvo, when the company was fined heavily by the European Commission for its involvement in a truck cartel.

The investors did not want to lose both CEO and chairman and the same time, says Svenska Dagbladet, but Johansson’s continued presence as chair of the board makes it harder to appoint a new CEO. The company’s CFO, Jan Frykhammar, was appointed acting CEO when Vestberg departed, but has said he does not want the permanent role.