It’s little surprise that Spain’s industry minister should emphasise the Spanishness of Telefónica. On Tuesday, Miguel Sebastián said the important point to take from the telecoms group’s radical reorganisation was that its headquarters would stay in Spain. So far, so predictable.
What’s more extraordinary is how calmly Spanish politicians seem to be handling news that the national champion is, in the FT’s words, “to axe its Spanish division as a standalone business”. Mr Sebastián actually went on to point out that the fact that Telefónica’s newly created digital division would be based in London was a sign that the telecoms group is ever more global. Read more
It’s sad to see Eastman Kodak reduced – at least in many investors’ eyes – to a punt on the photographic pioneer’s patents.
On Wednesday, its shares jumped by a quarter on the suggestion that its intellectual property could be worth more than the company itself. It’s a sign of the times as much as it is a sign of Kodak’s failure to find a convincing answer to the digital photography challenge: Google’s $12.5bn agreed bid this week for Motorola Mobility was largely based on the value of the mobile phonemaker’s patent portfolio. Read more
One problem with examining the road not taken is that it’s usually impossible to tell whether you took the right route until it’s too late to change course.
The announcement of the Google-Motorola Mobility deal sent me back to notes from an interview with Nokia’s chief executive Stephen Elop in March, to remind myself how difficult it is to make strategic leaps in a fast-changing industry. You’ll recall that the Finnish group ended up selecting Microsoft as its smartphone partner rather than Google. Read more
I’m fascinated by Huawei Technologies: it encapsulates all the challenges that fast-growing Chinese companies face – from governance to branding – and then some.
It’s already the world’s second largest manufacturer of mobile network equipment by revenue, but Huawei’s latest big bet is to be one of the world’s top three mobile handset brands by 2015. Wan Biao, chief executive of Huawei’s device unit, set the target at Wednesday’s launch of its cloud-computing smartphone, the “Vision”, based on Google’s Android operating system. Read more
My favourite bon mot from Richard Rumelt, the UCLA strategy expert whose interview fuelled my column this week, was his comment that in any boardroom discussion of strategic options, acquisitions should be “guilty until proven innocent”.
Prof Rumelt’s new book Good Strategy/Bad Strategy makes clear he is no fan of M&A. “The problem with engineering growth by acquisition,” he writes, “is that when you buy a company, especially a public company, you usually pay too much.” Read more
One of Nokia’s biggest challenges is to maintain its home-grown Symbian operating system, while simultaneously producing attractive Windows-run smartphones under its brand-new partnership with Microsoft. Exactly how that would be done was one of the questions I couldn’t yet answer in my recent two-part analysis of Nokia’s future.
It turns out the challenge will be met, in part, by offloading it onto Accenture. On Wednesday, Nokia announced that 3,000 staff – mainly Symbian software engineers – would transfer to the consultancy (an additional 4,000 jobs will be lost across Nokia).
I don’t know what the Finnish for “hot potato” is, but Accenture has been handed one. Read more
Huawei’s attempt to soothe fears about the US government and investors about its corporate governance by disclosing the names of its board members – not too radical a step, one might think – begs some questions.
Huawei has two image problems – its links to the Chinese government and People’s Liberation Army, and the degree to which the family of Ren Zhengfei, its founder and chief executive, are involved in running the business. Mr Ren is a fomer PLA engineer. Read more
One day in early February, Samuli Nyyssonen of Nokia boarded a plane in Bangalore working for one company and disembarked in Helsinki working for another.
While the software engineer was in the air on February 11, Stephen Elop, the company’s chief executive, had told its 130,000 employees about a sharp change of strategic direction. Nokia would ally with Microsoft in smartphones, while at the same time boosting the group’s basic phone business in an effort to reach the “next billion” users. Read more