|Customers wait in line to enter a Microsoft Corp. store during the grand opening in Troy, Michigan. (Bloomberg)|
A gambling website picked Nokia Oyj Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop, who has presided over a 62 percent decline in market value, as the favorite to become Microsoft Corp.’s new CEO.
Elop, a former Microsoft executive, has 5-to-1 odds to be hired as Steve Ballmer’s replacement, according to Ladbrokes Plc, the U.K.-based gambling operator. He leads a pool including internal candidates Kevin Turner and Julie Larson-Green and outsiders like Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook ― a 100-to-1 dark horse.
Microsoft is searching for a CEO who can help the biggest software maker fight back against competition in mobile, search, video, gaming and personal-computing development. Microsoft said last week Ballmer, its leader since 2000, would step down within the next 12 months.
Elop was the president of Microsoft’s business division, where he was in charge of Microsoft Office, before taking the top job at Nokia. The mobile-phone maker announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft just months after Elop became CEO. Elop likened his company’s mobile position at the time to a burning oil platform on the verge of being engulfed in flames.
On Sept. 10, 2010, when the Espoo, Finland-based company hired Elop, it was trading at 7.79 euros a share. Nokia fell 1 percent to 2.96 euros Wedensday in Helsinki.
Ballmer’s tenure at Microsoft has also been a money-loser for investors, with shares down 38 percent since he became CEO.
Doug Dawson, a spokesman with Nokia, didn’t respond immediately to messages seeking comment. Pete Wootton, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment on the list of names and their odds.
Elop’s all-or-nothing remake of Nokia, using Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, hasn’t yet created a significant challenger to Apple and Samsung Electronics Co., the dominant leaders in the smartphone market. Still, Elop can claim at least one recent victory: In the second quarter, on the strength of Nokia’s Lumia phones, Microsoft beat out BlackBerry Ltd. as the third-largest smartphone operating system, according to a Gartner report earlier this month. (Bloomberg)