Nokia CTO bails, shares rise

Chief technology officer reportedly unhappy with strategy direction

Shares of Nokia (NYSE: NOK) climbed almost 2 percent Thursday, despite news that a high-ranking executive was taking a leave of absence amid rumors of rifts over corporate strategy.

Nokia reached as high as 6.35, or 1.9 percent above Wednesday's close of 6.23. Investors were greeted Thursday with news that Richard Green, Nokia's chief technology officer, was taking an indefinite leave of absence to "attend to a personal matter."

(Also see: Nokia shares down on Samsung bid rumor)

But as the New York Times reports:

[A] Finnish newspaper reported that Mr. Green was unlikely to return because of disagreements over strategy.

Without citing its sources, the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reported that Mr. Green was unhappy with management decisions, including abandoning plans to introduce devices based on the MeeGo smartphone operating system that had been under development with the chip maker Intel.

Green, a former Sun Microsystems executive, has only been at Nokia for about a year and reports (or reported) to CEO Stephen Elop, who in February announced a partnership with Microsoft in which Nokia would manufacture smartphones running Windows Phone 7, thus abandoning its own Symbian operating system and plans for MeeGo.

But the WP7 phones are still many months away, and Nokia's shares have plunged since the Microsoft deal was unveiled.

The Finland-based company has warned investors that sales and earnings for the current quarter will come in well under expectations, and it will offer no more financial estimates for the rest of the fiscal year.

Consequently Nokia has been downgraded by many analysts, while Standard & Poor’s on Thursday cut the company's debt rating to barely above investment-worthy, following a similar action earlier this week by Fitch Ratings.

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