Nokia CEO Refutes Claims It's Losing Market Share to Arch Rival

(Bloomberg) -- Nokia Oyj Chief Executive Rajeev Suri set out Thursday to dispel any notion that his company is losing market shares to its main rival, Sweden’s Ericsson AB.

On a conference call after the Finnish company announced second-quarter earnings, Suri said Nokia is winning more business from Ericsson than the other way around, in a rare public comment on the competitor on the other side of the Baltic Sea.

“Any suggestion that Nokia is losing share as a result of a fundamental issue of product competitiveness is simply incorrect,” Suri said. “It might make for interesting competitor-fueled speculation, but it doesn’t reflect reality."

Ericsson and Nokia have both suffered from a slump in investments by mobile-phone operators that the Finnish company seemed better prepared for when it hit in 2016. Since then, Ericsson has set out to slash operating costs and address loss-making businesses, and the first six months of this year indicate that it’s made some substantial progress. That, combined with Ericsson contract wins -- such as a deal with Verizon Communications Inc. announced last week -- has led to questions about whether Nokia may be losing market shares to its arch-rival.

Suri is having none of it.

While admitting the loss of a “small number” of Verizon’s markets, the Nokia boss was adamant that the company isn’t losing any market share in the North American market, which is dominated by four large carriers, and hinted that it is about to announce a major contract there in the coming days.

“We still have a very strong position with Verizon and are working closely with them on 5G,” Suri said. With two other large North American operators, Nokia is "gaining meaningful share in mobile radio," he said.

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