Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will return to Microsoft as part of the sale of Nokia's devices unit to the Windows maker.
As part of Microsoft's impending acquisition of Nokia's devices and services unit, current Nokia CEO and former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop is returning to the company where he once led development of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft's press release announcing the purchase notes that Elop will now serve as Nokia's executive vice president of its devices and services division, the portion of Nokia that Microsoft will acquire through the deal. According to an email sent to Microsoft employees by CEO Steve Ballmer, Elop will lead the Microsoft's devices team when the transaction is complete, including all of Microsoft's current devices and studios as well as the majority of the teams being acquired from Nokia.
Ballmer's memo states Julie Larson-Green, recently named the head of Microsoft's hardware products, will "be joining Stephen's team once the acquisition closes," though she will focus on the release of Microsoft's Xbox One game console and upcoming "Surface enhancements" until then. The move marks the third in about a year for Larson-Green, who oversaw Windows development following Steven Sinofsky's departure in November.
A separate press release issued by Nokia states Risto Siilasmaa, current chairman of Nokia's board of directors, will serve as the company's interim chief executive. Elop will directly report to Siilasmaa until the deal is finalized, which is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2014. In addition to relinquishing his responsibilities as president and CEO, Elop also resigned from Nokia's board of directors, effective immediately.
Elop's return to Microsoft comes on the heels of speculation that he could be a candidate to become the company's chief executive when Ballmer retires in a year or less. Microsoft has given no indication of what qualities it's seeking in a new chief executive, however, and equal speculation exists that the company will seek an outside candidate instead of any internal options. Elop left Microsoft in 2010 to become Nokia's chief executive.