* CFO appointed to replace outgoing CEO
* Outgoing CEO Alahuhta rules out another top job, not
interested in Nokia
* Q4 operating income up 14 percent to 293 mln euros, in
line with forecasts
(Adds more comment by CEO, share price reaction)
By Ritsuko Ando and Jussi Rosendahl
HELSINKI, Jan 28 Finnish lifts and escalators
firm Kone's chief executive Matti Alahuhta is to step
down at the end of March, the company announced on Tuesday,
after reporting a rise in profits and higher orders due to
strong demand in China.
Alahuhta, 61, a well-known figure in Finland who has also
served on the executive board of Nokia, said nine
years as CEO was a long time and that he wanted to do something
new. He will be replaced by chief financial officer Henrik
Alahuhta told reporters that he did not intend to take on
another role as a CEO and denied he was angling for the top job
at Nokia, which is in the process of finding a new leader
following the sale of its mobile phones business to Microsoft.
Under Alahuhta Kone's business has expanded globally,
benefiting from growth in construction and high-rise
developments in markets such as China and the Middle East, and
analysts said he was leaving at a time when the company was on a
steady growth track.
The share price was up 2 percent at 32.94 euros by 1340 GMT.
"He is respected and has accomplished a lot at Kone. But I
think the organisation today is very strong, so his departure
should not be a major issue for the company's future in that
respect," said Pareto Securities analyst Jari Harjunpaa.
In the fourth quarter Kone's operating income rose 14
percent to 293 million euros ($401 million). While that was in
line with expectations orders received in the quarter rose to
1.47 billion euros, beating the average market forecast of 1.37
billion euros according to a Reuters poll.
"The growth of the Chinese market picked up again in the
last quarter of the year, resulting in a full-year market growth
rate of slightly above 15 percent," Alahuhta said in a
The company forecast the Chinese market would grow by
approximately 10 percent in 2014.
The mid-point of its forecast range for operating profits in
2014 was 980 milllion euros to 1.05 billion euros, weaker than
the market's forecast for 1.05 billion, but analysts said the
outlook for China was encouraging.
"Their outlook for China is brighter than I expected. Also,
this company has traditionally been a bit conservative with its
guidances, so it looks like the Chinese market remains pretty
strong for them," said Harjunpaa.
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)