Ericsson AGM: business as usual for 5G, dividend payments
01 April 2020 | Melanie Mingas
Ericsson took the opportunity to calm shareholder nerves at its AGM in Stockholm yesterday, with group president and CEO Börje Ekholm using the meeting to highlight the firm’s business as usual approach during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Addressing attendees via live stream, Ekholm (pictured) reflected on the key achievements from 2019 including 5G developments and a renewed financial position.
He said: “Last year we talked about switching on 5G globally. Today, we can say that we have succeeded. The world’s first 5G network was launched with Ericsson’s technology and the same was true for the first network in Europe. Right now, we have 86 commercial 5G agreements and 27 live networks in four continents.
“Ericsson is leading the 5G development. I see no one in front of us.”
Ericsson currently holds more than 54,000 granted patents, with one – unnamed – law firm finding that the firm holds a “leading” share of relevant 5G patents globally.
Most recently, Ericsson partnered with Sinch and Greece’s COSMOTE to advance its work in 5G, while last month Ekholm revealed that mergers and acquisitions will form a major part of the firm’s 5G growth strategy.
In reference to Ericsson’s financial position, Ekholm said R&D investments had “yielded results” and that “for the first time since 2013, Ericsson is showing organic growth and improved gross margin and operating margin compared to 2018.”
“Ericsson’s financial position is strong, and we have a robust balance sheet with net cash of SEK 34 billion (US$3.4 billion) at the end of last year. This allows us to continue to invest, execute on our strategy and also provides resilience,” he added.
In terms of dividends, a proposed dividend of SEK 1.50 per share (US$0.15/share) was approved and will be paid in two equal instalments: SEK 0.75 per share with the record date Thursday, 2 April and SEK 0.75 per share with the record date Friday, 2 October.
Finally, Ronnie Leten was re-elected chair of the board and Jon Fredrik Baksaas, Jan Carlson, Nora Denzel, Börje Ekholm, Eric A. Elzvik, Kurt Jofs, Ronnie Leten, Kristin S. Rinne, Helena Stjernholm and Jacob Wallenberg were re-elected as board members.
Meanwhile, unions appointed Torbjörn Nyman, Kjell-Åke Soting and Roger Svensson as employee representatives with Per Holmberg, Anders Ripa and Loredana Roslund as deputies.
Ekholm said: “Our top priority at the moment is the health and safety of our employees, customers, and other stakeholders. So far, we have not seen any material impact on our business, but we are closely following the developments in society.”
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