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CNBC Interview with Börje Ekholm, Ericsson Group President and CEO, from the World Economic Forum 2018

Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson Group and CNBC's Steve Sedgwick and Geoff Cutmore from the World Economic Forum 2018.

SS: Right. I'm delighted to say, Börje Ekholm is with us, the President and CEO of Ericsson Group. And you've been in that position a year now, Börje-,

BE: Yeah-,

SS: So, what change are you managing to inaugurate and get through over Ericsson, and what needs to be done still?

BE: Yeah, no, I came in, about a year ago, almost to the day, to be honest. We have done-, what we have done is launched a focus strategy, with clear priorities, where we're focusing on our networks business, that's the traditional radio, digital services, which is the core of the telecom networks, and managed services, where we run, basically, telecom services. So, we're continuing on that focus, making sure that we provide cost-efficient solutions to our customers.

SS: The threat, as we've seen from Mr. Trump, and what he's doing with washing machines and solar, is coming from China, again, as well. How vicious is that competition, at the moment?

BE: No, I would say China is a very important market for us. We have a large part of the Chinese infrastructure market, for telecom infrastructure and mobile infrastructure. So, for us, it's a lot of innovation going on in China, at the same time, so-, so, what we're seeing is, in a way, China developing on the back of a very strong digital infrastructure, becoming much more innovative, and we have to capture that part.

GC: The-, the recent story of the company, let's face it, has been one of write-downs and losses. How far away do you think you are from arresting the decline and the-, and the challenges that this business faces?

BE: Now, what you see is, we've had a headwind from, call it the general market. We've seen declines in the infrastructure spending, and that, of course, has impacted Ericsson. What we see, though, is a lot of promise coming in 5G. We're starting to-, to see the excitement here. Going back a year, 5G was a-, I would label it a buzzword. It didn't really have any real meaning. But today, we're seeing operators around the world starting, actually, to prepare networks and launching trials.

GC: And yet, Sigve Brekke, who was in that very seat, from Telenor, just minutes ago, really-,

BE: Mm.

GC: Said the regulators still need educating around 5G, and there are some issues about the way that the bandwidth is going to be made available. What would you suggest?

BE: No, there are, and this is, a little bit, a European problem, where we still have a little bit of regulatory uncertainty, what bands will be available, when will they be available, etc. And here, I think there is a need to start clarifying that, by the European politicians. That-, I think that is slowing down investments in Europe a bit today. We see, on the other hand, China, Korea, Japan, powering ahead, frequency situation more established. North America, also powering ahead, very high frequency bands, but-, but still powering ahead in to 5G.

SS: Are you being hamstrung not only by the European broader pace, but also by your own shareholders, as well? 7-, and correct me if I'm wrong, I think it's around about 7.3%, they want faster capital executing pace, and cost cutting, reduction ambitions, a well. They want you to cut costs, where, to develop 5G, you've got to spend money, as well. Are your shareholders just too short-termist?

BE: Ah. You know, your-, a company has the shareholders we have. What we're doing is focusing on executing-,

SS: Is Cevian too short-termist?

BE: No, I wouldn't say so. If you look how long they actually owned Volvo, for example, I wouldn't argue they're short-term. But-, but they have a point in that we need to correct our profitability, we need to, you know, get back to profitability. In reality, unless we are profitable, we will have no money to spend.

GC: Sure, and I think there's a very strong message from you, though, that if Europe wants to be at the table and compete, they need to be faster, and they need to be committed, and that's what you're seeing in Asia with the Chinese.

BE: Mm.

GC: Do I read you wrong?

BE: No. I think that what is happening now is that China is motoring along very rapidly, building a very strong digital infrastructure in the country, which will benefit, you know, the whole innovation there. But, you see North America doing the same thing. Europe also should do the same thing.

SS: Börje-, lovely to see you, you're our final guest of our first show, and that's great, the way it should be. Börje Ekholm, CEO and President of Ericsson, thank you very much indeed.

BE: Thank you.

ENDS

Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson Group and CNBC's Steve Sedgwick and Geoff Cutmore from the World Economic Forum 2018.

SS: Right. I'm delighted to say, Börje Ekholm is with us, the President and CEO of Ericsson Group. And you've been in that position a year now, Börje-,

BE: Yeah-,

SS: So, what change are you managing to inaugurate and get through over Ericsson, and what needs to be done still?

BE: Yeah, no, I came in, about a year ago, almost to the day, to be honest. We have done-, what we have done is launched a focus strategy, with clear priorities, where we're focusing on our networks business, that's the traditional radio, digital services, which is the core of the telecom networks, and managed services, where we run, basically, telecom services. So, we're continuing on that focus, making sure that we provide cost-efficient solutions to our customers.

SS: The threat, as we've seen from Mr. Trump, and what he's doing with washing machines and solar, is coming from China, again, as well. How vicious is that competition, at the moment?

BE: No, I would say China is a very important market for us. We have a large part of the Chinese infrastructure market, for telecom infrastructure and mobile infrastructure. So, for us, it's a lot of innovation going on in China, at the same time, so-, so, what we're seeing is, in a way, China developing on the back of a very strong digital infrastructure, becoming much more innovative, and we have to capture that part.

GC: The-, the recent story of the company, let's face it, has been one of write-downs and losses. How far away do you think you are from arresting the decline and the-, and the challenges that this business faces?

BE: Now, what you see is, we've had a headwind from, call it the general market. We've seen declines in the infrastructure spending, and that, of course, has impacted Ericsson. What we see, though, is a lot of promise coming in 5G. We're starting to-, to see the excitement here. Going back a year, 5G was a-, I would label it a buzzword. It didn't really have any real meaning. But today, we're seeing operators around the world starting, actually, to prepare networks and launching trials.

GC: And yet, Sigve Brekke, who was in that very seat, from Telenor, just minutes ago, really-,

BE: Mm.

GC: Said the regulators still need educating around 5G, and there are some issues about the way that the bandwidth is going to be made available. What would you suggest?

BE: No, there are, and this is, a little bit, a European problem, where we still have a little bit of regulatory uncertainty, what bands will be available, when will they be available, etc. And here, I think there is a need to start clarifying that, by the European politicians. That-, I think that is slowing down investments in Europe a bit today. We see, on the other hand, China, Korea, Japan, powering ahead, frequency situation more established. North America, also powering ahead, very high frequency bands, but-, but still powering ahead in to 5G.

SS: Are you being hamstrung not only by the European broader pace, but also by your own shareholders, as well? 7-, and correct me if I'm wrong, I think it's around about 7.3%, they want faster capital executing pace, and cost cutting, reduction ambitions, a well. They want you to cut costs, where, to develop 5G, you've got to spend money, as well. Are your shareholders just too short-termist?

BE: Ah. You know, your-, a company has the shareholders we have. What we're doing is focusing on executing-,

SS: Is Cevian too short-termist?

BE: No, I wouldn't say so. If you look how long they actually owned Volvo, for example, I wouldn't argue they're short-term. But-, but they have a point in that we need to correct our profitability, we need to, you know, get back to profitability. In reality, unless we are profitable, we will have no money to spend.

GC: Sure, and I think there's a very strong message from you, though, that if Europe wants to be at the table and compete, they need to be faster, and they need to be committed, and that's what you're seeing in Asia with the Chinese.

BE: Mm.

GC: Do I read you wrong?

BE: No. I think that what is happening now is that China is motoring along very rapidly, building a very strong digital infrastructure in the country, which will benefit, you know, the whole innovation there. But, you see North America doing the same thing. Europe also should do the same thing.

SS: Börje-, lovely to see you, you're our final guest of our first show, and that's great, the way it should be. Börje Ekholm, CEO and President of Ericsson, thank you very much indeed.

BE: Thank you.

ENDS

Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson Group and CNBC's Steve Sedgwick and Geoff Cutmore from the World Economic Forum 2018.

SS: Right. I'm delighted to say, Börje Ekholm is with us, the President and CEO of Ericsson Group. And you've been in that position a year now, Börje-,

BE: Yeah-,

SS: So, what change are you managing to inaugurate and get through over Ericsson, and what needs to be done still?

BE: Yeah, no, I came in, about a year ago, almost to the day, to be honest. We have done-, what we have done is launched a focus strategy, with clear priorities, where we're focusing on our networks business, that's the traditional radio, digital services, which is the core of the telecom networks, and managed services, where we run, basically, telecom services. So, we're continuing on that focus, making sure that we provide cost-efficient solutions to our customers.

SS: The threat, as we've seen from Mr. Trump, and what he's doing with washing machines and solar, is coming from China, again, as well. How vicious is that competition, at the moment?

BE: No, I would say China is a very important market for us. We have a large part of the Chinese infrastructure market, for telecom infrastructure and mobile infrastructure. So, for us, it's a lot of innovation going on in China, at the same time, so-, so, what we're seeing is, in a way, China developing on the back of a very strong digital infrastructure, becoming much more innovative, and we have to capture that part.

GC: The-, the recent story of the company, let's face it, has been one of write-downs and losses. How far away do you think you are from arresting the decline and the-, and the challenges that this business faces?

BE: Now, what you see is, we've had a headwind from, call it the general market. We've seen declines in the infrastructure spending, and that, of course, has impacted Ericsson. What we see, though, is a lot of promise coming in 5G. We're starting to-, to see the excitement here. Going back a year, 5G was a-, I would label it a buzzword. It didn't really have any real meaning. But today, we're seeing operators around the world starting, actually, to prepare networks and launching trials.

GC: And yet, Sigve Brekke, who was in that very seat, from Telenor, just minutes ago, really-,

BE: Mm.

GC: Said the regulators still need educating around 5G, and there are some issues about the way that the bandwidth is going to be made available. What would you suggest?

BE: No, there are, and this is, a little bit, a European problem, where we still have a little bit of regulatory uncertainty, what bands will be available, when will they be available, etc. And here, I think there is a need to start clarifying that, by the European politicians. That-, I think that is slowing down investments in Europe a bit today. We see, on the other hand, China, Korea, Japan, powering ahead, frequency situation more established. North America, also powering ahead, very high frequency bands, but-, but still powering ahead in to 5G.

SS: Are you being hamstrung not only by the European broader pace, but also by your own shareholders, as well? 7-, and correct me if I'm wrong, I think it's around about 7.3%, they want faster capital executing pace, and cost cutting, reduction ambitions, a well. They want you to cut costs, where, to develop 5G, you've got to spend money, as well. Are your shareholders just too short-termist?

BE: Ah. You know, your-, a company has the shareholders we have. What we're doing is focusing on executing-,

SS: Is Cevian too short-termist?

BE: No, I wouldn't say so. If you look how long they actually owned Volvo, for example, I wouldn't argue they're short-term. But-, but they have a point in that we need to correct our profitability, we need to, you know, get back to profitability. In reality, unless we are profitable, we will have no money to spend.

GC: Sure, and I think there's a very strong message from you, though, that if Europe wants to be at the table and compete, they need to be faster, and they need to be committed, and that's what you're seeing in Asia with the Chinese.

BE: Mm.

GC: Do I read you wrong?

BE: No. I think that what is happening now is that China is motoring along very rapidly, building a very strong digital infrastructure in the country, which will benefit, you know, the whole innovation there. But, you see North America doing the same thing. Europe also should do the same thing.

SS: Börje-, lovely to see you, you're our final guest of our first show, and that's great, the way it should be. Börje Ekholm, CEO and President of Ericsson, thank you very much indeed.

BE: Thank you.

ENDS

Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson Group and CNBC's Steve Sedgwick and Geoff Cutmore from the World Economic Forum 2018.

SS: Right. I'm delighted to say, Börje Ekholm is with us, the President and CEO of Ericsson Group. And you've been in that position a year now, Börje-,

BE: Yeah-,

SS: So, what change are you managing to inaugurate and get through over Ericsson, and what needs to be done still?

BE: Yeah, no, I came in, about a year ago, almost to the day, to be honest. We have done-, what we have done is launched a focus strategy, with clear priorities, where we're focusing on our networks business, that's the traditional radio, digital services, which is the core of the telecom networks, and managed services, where we run, basically, telecom services. So, we're continuing on that focus, making sure that we provide cost-efficient solutions to our customers.

SS: The threat, as we've seen from Mr. Trump, and what he's doing with washing machines and solar, is coming from China, again, as well. How vicious is that competition, at the moment?

BE: No, I would say China is a very important market for us. We have a large part of the Chinese infrastructure market, for telecom infrastructure and mobile infrastructure. So, for us, it's a lot of innovation going on in China, at the same time, so-, so, what we're seeing is, in a way, China developing on the back of a very strong digital infrastructure, becoming much more innovative, and we have to capture that part.

GC: The-, the recent story of the company, let's face it, has been one of write-downs and losses. How far away do you think you are from arresting the decline and the-, and the challenges that this business faces?

BE: Now, what you see is, we've had a headwind from, call it the general market. We've seen declines in the infrastructure spending, and that, of course, has impacted Ericsson. What we see, though, is a lot of promise coming in 5G. We're starting to-, to see the excitement here. Going back a year, 5G was a-, I would label it a buzzword. It didn't really have any real meaning. But today, we're seeing operators around the world starting, actually, to prepare networks and launching trials.

GC: And yet, Sigve Brekke, who was in that very seat, from Telenor, just minutes ago, really-,

BE: Mm.

GC: Said the regulators still need educating around 5G, and there are some issues about the way that the bandwidth is going to be made available. What would you suggest?

BE: No, there are, and this is, a little bit, a European problem, where we still have a little bit of regulatory uncertainty, what bands will be available, when will they be available, etc. And here, I think there is a need to start clarifying that, by the European politicians. That-, I think that is slowing down investments in Europe a bit today. We see, on the other hand, China, Korea, Japan, powering ahead, frequency situation more established. North America, also powering ahead, very high frequency bands, but-, but still powering ahead in to 5G.

SS: Are you being hamstrung not only by the European broader pace, but also by your own shareholders, as well? 7-, and correct me if I'm wrong, I think it's around about 7.3%, they want faster capital executing pace, and cost cutting, reduction ambitions, a well. They want you to cut costs, where, to develop 5G, you've got to spend money, as well. Are your shareholders just too short-termist?

BE: Ah. You know, your-, a company has the shareholders we have. What we're doing is focusing on executing-,

SS: Is Cevian too short-termist?

BE: No, I wouldn't say so. If you look how long they actually owned Volvo, for example, I wouldn't argue they're short-term. But-, but they have a point in that we need to correct our profitability, we need to, you know, get back to profitability. In reality, unless we are profitable, we will have no money to spend.

GC: Sure, and I think there's a very strong message from you, though, that if Europe wants to be at the table and compete, they need to be faster, and they need to be committed, and that's what you're seeing in Asia with the Chinese.

BE: Mm.

GC: Do I read you wrong?

BE: No. I think that what is happening now is that China is motoring along very rapidly, building a very strong digital infrastructure in the country, which will benefit, you know, the whole innovation there. But, you see North America doing the same thing. Europe also should do the same thing.

SS: Börje-, lovely to see you, you're our final guest of our first show, and that's great, the way it should be. Börje Ekholm, CEO and President of Ericsson, thank you very much indeed.

BE: Thank you.

ENDS