Finnair hires Nordea banker as new boss
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[September 04, 2018]
By Anne Kauranen and Jussi Rosendahl
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland's
state-controlled airline Finnair <FIA1S.HE> has turned to the financial
world for its new chief executive, appointing Nordea Bank's <NDA.ST>
Topi Manner to take the role from January.
Manner, 44, currently works as the head of personal banking at the
Nordic region's biggest bank and he will succeed departing Finnair boss
Pekka Vauramo. Vauramo is widely credited with returning the airline to
profit growth on the back of cost cuts and a focus on passengers flying
between Europe and Asia.
"Topi Manner has extensive experience in both private and corporate
customer business, and he has played a strong role in the digital
transformation and customer service development of his bank," Finnair
Chairman Jouko Karvinen told a news conference.
Manner has worked for more than 20 years at the bank in different
Vauramo, Finnair CEO since 2013, is joining engineering company Metso <METSO.HE>
Share in 55.8 percent state-owned Finnair were down 0.65 percent in a
The airline suffered a setback in July when it warned that a substantial
increase in fuel prices would weigh on profits in the second half of the
Inderes analyst Antti Viljakainen told Reuters he did not anticipate
major changes to Finnair's strategy under the new management.
"Chairman... highlighted (Manner's) experience in people-centric
leadership. It is of the utmost importance at Finnair, to be able to
balance between the personnel groups and the owners," said Viljakainen,
who has an "accumulate" rating on the stock.
Manner takes the helm of an airline that has struggled for several years
to compete with discount carriers and had difficulties in restructuring
its operations due to strong trade unions. Also, relations with the
state have been strained.
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An airplane from Finnair prepares to take-off at Cointrin airport in
Geneva, Switzerland December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy
A board member for management compensation quit earlier this year after the
government criticized a supplementary pension arrangement for Vauramo. In 2012,
the government replaced six of its board members due to lack of openness in
In the past years, some former and current government officials have looked into
scrapping a clause that obliges the state to own more than 50 percent of Finnair,
saying the change would pave the way for Finnair to take part in industry
However, the idea has proved too sensitive for politicians.
Chairman Karvinen, asked on the ownership, told Reuters that the company was
focused on developing its business "under the current situation".
"For sure, we think about all kinds of strategic options. I have a peaceful
mind... and we will always discuss these matters directly with the owners," he
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen and Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Keith Weir and
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