Wild-eyed believers in the Grand Elop Conspiracy might feel a little less crazy this morning. Frequent BGR contributor Tero Kuittinen, writing over at Forbes, points us to some reports in the Finnish press showing that former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop actually did have massive incentives in his contract to tank Nokia’s shares and sell the company off. According to Kuittinen, Nokia added a clause to Elop’s contract that “entitled [him] to immediate share price performance bonus in case of a ‘change of control’ situation… such as selling of Nokia’s handset division.” Unsurprisingly, this clause was not part of the previous Nokia CEO’s contract.
What’s even more striking, Kuittinen notes, is that “Elop’s bonus did not require an increase in Nokia’s share price” but instead “only required an increase in the share price from the absolute bottom… driving down the share price by 80% and then bouncing it a bit would be enough.”
This news all came to light after Nokia told members of the Finnish press last week that Elop’s contract was “essentially the same” as the one written for former Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. Once Finnish papers actually checked Nokia’s claim against Securities and Exchange Commission documents, however, they discovered key differences between the two and forced Nokia to admit that its claim about the two contracts being roughly the same was incorrect.
For his part, Elop will walk away with a $25 million payday once Microsoft finalizes its deal to acquire Nokia’s handset and services divisions, so at the very least we know that he’s not feeling too broken up about his decision to sell parts of the once-iconic Finnish smartphone manufacturer to the company where he’s now a leading candidate to become the next CEO.
Many people in Finland are unsurprisingly not happy with this state of affairs, however, and The Financial Times reports that Finnish politicians from both the right and the left are seething that Elop is getting $25 million for selling off pieces of Nokia to Microsoft. Center-right Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, for instance, called the payment “outrageous” and added that “apparently the practices of rewards by large corporations all over the world are so exceptional that they cannot be understood with common sense.” Jutta Urpilainen, the centre-left finance minister, similarly wrote that the Elop payday has created “a general toxic atmosphere” that “may be a threat to social harmony.”