Finnish state investor raps Nokia for poor communication on profit dive

FILE PHOTO: HMD Global Product Officer Juho Sarvikas walks onto the stage during the presentation of the new Nokia 1 Plus during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante -/File Photo

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The head of Finland’s state investment firm Solidium criticised Nokia for poor communication on Thursday and said he had sent management some “feisty feedback” after its sudden profit warning in October.

“We were very disappointed by the radical change in (Nokia’s) guidance and above all in their communications about it,” Solidium’s Chief Executive Antti Makinen told Reuters in a sharp rebuke to the company from its biggest shareholder.

On Oct. 24 Nokia slashed its 2019 and 2020 profit outlook and halted dividend payouts, saying the company would need to spend more to fend off rivals in the fast-growing 5G networks business.

Makinen criticized what he called Nokia’s passive approach towards its owners and investors, especially the fact that Nokia, unlike its rival Ericsson, has for years chosen not to hold capital market days to outline its strategy.

“They have communicated their development to investors rather poorly and we gave them some feisty feedback for it,” Makinen said.

Solidium contributed 338 million euros ($375 million) to Finland’s state budget last year but expects Nokia’s dividend cut to reduce this in 2020.

Its full-year 2019 return on equity holdings was 15% but for the last six months it fell into the red at -1.4%, burdened by a 33% drop over 12 months in its return from Nokia.

Finland’s Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) has started an investigation into Nokia’s sharp profit warning in October which sent its shares more than 20% lower, Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reported on Saturday.

Solidium holds 3.85% of Nokia. It is a major shareholder in 13 listed Finnish companies, including Stora Enso, Outokumpu and Metso.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Mark Trevelyan