March 28, 2017 / 10:00 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Finnish tyremaker Nokian names Hille Korhonen as new CEO

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HELSINKI, March 28 (Reuters) - Finland’s Nokian Tyres on Tuesday appointed long-standing board member Hille Korhonen as its new chief executive.

The company, one of Europe’s most Russia-exposed firms due to its large tyre plant near St Petersburgh, lost CEO Ari Lehtoranta to smaller Finnish firm Caverion last year, creating uncertainty about its future.

Korhonen has been a board member at Nokian since 2006. She currently works as CEO of Finland’s national alcoholic beverage retail monopoly Alko.

“We conducted an extensive international recruitment process ... Hille Korhonen brings extensive leadership experience and excellent brand expertise to this position”, Chairman Petteri Wallden said in a statement.

Korhonen will start as CEO in June.

Nokian’s sales were hit by the Ukraine crisis, a slowdown in the Russian economy and a weakening of the rouble, but it has managed to offset lost business by growing in North America and central Europe.

The company is expecting moderate growth in Russia this year, saying its key market is showing signs of stabilising.

“It’s a good, neutral choice. The company is in good shape, and she’s likely to continue in Lehtoranta’s footsteps,” said Sauli Vilen, an analyst at Inderes Equity Research.

“As a board member she knows the company well, but the question is, what new she has to offer,” added Vilen, who has a ‘reduce’ recommendation on the shares.

The stock was broadly flat in afternoon trading in Helsinki.

Nokian appointed the head of its Russian operations, Andrei Pantioukhov, as interim CEO in December, but said he was not considered for the role permanently. He will continue to lead the Russian business from June. (Reporting by Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Mark Potter)

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