Vestberg inked 230Ericsson is negotiating how much to pay for corruption while Vestberg was CFO (2007-2009) and CEO (2010-2016) of the Swedish company.  The company said the fines were likely "material," which for a US$24 billion (sales) company sounds like billions. 50 people have been fired. 

Vestberg so far is doing an excellent job at Verizon so the Board will probably not fire him. The payoffs while he was at Ericsson made international news in 2015, so the Verizon board knew this was coming when they hired him. The stock market also is ignoring the news of the likely fine; Ericsson is up 5% today.

It is highly unlikely that Vestberg, a highly involved manager, didn't know what was going on. 

The financial news from Ericsson is welcome: a $300M profit in the third quarter, on roughly flat sales.

US$6 billion in sales was up 1% after currency adjustments and 9% without adjustments. U.S. sales were excellent, presumably especially at Verizon. 5G now works and carriers are buying. The financial release is below. Networks are up slightly, services still awful. They've fired enough people to show a profit, but did increase R & D. Huawei's US$15 billion research budget dwarfs all others, buts Ericsson's focus on 5G is keeping them in the game. An analyst I respect, Carolyn Gabriel, thinks E is actually a little ahead. But it's very early.

 

From Ericsson financials about the corruption 

As previously disclosed, we have been voluntarily cooperating since 2013 with an investigation by the SEC and, since 2015, with an investigation by the DOJ into Ericsson’s compliance with the U.S. FCPA. While we cannot comment in detail we can provide the following update on the process. We have identified facts that are relevant to the investigations and these facts have been shared with the authorities. We continue to cooperate with the SEC and the DOJ and are engaged in discussions with them to find a resolution. While the length of these discussions cannot be determined, based on the facts that we have shared with the authorities, we believe that the resolution of these matters will likely result in monetary and other measures, the magnitude of which cannot be estimated currently but may be material. We continue our efforts to improve on our compliance program. See further details in “Other information”.

Third quarter report 2018

Stockholm, October 18, 2018

Third quarter highlights – Sales as reported increased YoY by 9% and sales adjusted for comparable units and currency increased by 1%. –

Segment Networks showed a sales growth adjusted for comparable units and currency of 5% YoY with strong sales growth in North America as well as in Europe and Latin America. – Gross margin was 36.5% (26.9%). Gross margin excluding restructuring charges improved to 36.9% (28.5%), driven mainly by cost reductions, the continued ramp-up of Ericsson Radio System (ERS) and good progress in reviewing Managed Services contracts. – Operating margin was 6.0% (-7.4%). Operating margin excluding restructuring charges was 7.0% (-1.7%). – Networks operating margin excluding restructuring charges was 16.1% (11.9%) driven by cost reductions and ERS ramp-up, partly offset by increased investments in R&D. –

Digital Services operating margin excluding restructuring charges was -15.9% (-29.9%) supported by a gross margin excluding restructuring charges of 36.9% (32.0%). Sequentially, gross margin declined from 42.6% mainly due to increased provisions related to transformation projects. –

Managed Services operating margin excluding restructuring charges improved to 6.8% (-9.5%) as a result of cost reductions and customer contract reviews. –Cash flow from operating activities was SEK 2.0 (0.0) b. and free cash flow excluding M&A was SEK 0.7 (-0.8) b. Net cash increased YoY to SEK 32.0 (24.1) b

CEO comments “We continue to execute on our focused strategy, tracking well towards our 2020 targets. We see improvements across our businesses resulting in a gross margin1) of 36.9% (28.5%) and an operating margin1) of 7.0% (-1.7%). Organic2) sales growth was 1% for the Group, despite headwind from exited non-strategic contracts. We continue to invest in our competitive 5G-ready portfolio to enable our customers to efficiently migrate to 5G. Operators around the world plan for launching 5G services, led by North America.

The strong customer interest in 5G generates a gradual increase in costs for field trials. We expect the costs to remain on high levels, at least for the coming 12-18 months, and they are included in our 2020 profitability target of at least 10%. Networks gross margin1) improved to 41.5% (34.8%) with an organic2) sales growth of 5%. The strong sales were mainly driven by a continued high activity level primarily in North America.

Due to the strong sequential sales increase in the third quarter we expect lower effects from seasonality than normal in the fourth quarter in Networks. Digital Services gross margin1) improved to 36.9% (32.0%) YoY, but declined QoQ. We see clear results of our cost-out activities and good progress in large parts of the business. At the same time, provisions related to large digital transformation projects increased in the quarter, explaining the sequential drop in gross margin. We are not satisfied with the development in these digital transformation projects and are thus increasing our efforts to turn them around. In Managed Services, gross margin1) improved to 12.9% (-4.0%) supported by efficiency gains and customer contract reviews. We have finalized 40 of the targeted 42 contracts, with an annualized profit improvement of SEK 0.9 b. We are increasing our investments in R&D to reshape the offering based on automation and artificial intelligence. We see strong customer interest in the coming solutions, but sales are so far limited as we are in early stages.

We continue to invest in strategic future growth areas such as Internet of Things (IoT) and saw increasing momentum with one important customer win with our connectivity platform solutions in the quarter. As parts of the portfolio in Emerging Business are in an early phase, sales are so far limited. We will remain disciplined in our investments in Emerging Business by tracking each venture against delivery milestones. Even though the cost reduction program, announced in July 2017, has been completed, we continue our efforts to drive efficiency and cost reductions to further increase competitiveness. Our estimate for restructuring charges of SEK 5-7 b. for the full year remains. Free cash flow excluding M&A improved to SEK 0.7 (-0.8) b. and our cash position remains strong. Our work to further strengthen the balance sheet continues.

As previously disclosed, we have been voluntarily cooperating since 2013 with an investigation by the SEC and, since 2015, with an investigation by the DOJ into Ericsson’s compliance with the U.S. FCPA. While we cannot comment in detail we can provide the following update on the process. We have identified facts that are relevant to the investigations and these facts have been shared with the authorities. We continue to cooperate with the SEC and the DOJ and are engaged in discussions with them to find a resolution. While the length of these discussions cannot be determined, based on the facts that we have shared with the authorities, we believe that the resolution of these matters will likely result in monetary and other measures, the magnitude of which cannot be estimated currently but may be material.We continue our efforts to improve on our compliance program. See further details in “Other information”.

There is strong momentum in the global 5G market with lead markets moving forward. The global radio access market is recovering from several years of negative growth and our investments in R&D have positioned us well to benefit from this development. More work remains, however, to get all parts of the business to a satisfactory performance level. We remain confident in reaching our longterm target of at least 12% operating margin beyond 2020.” Börje Ekholm President and CEO Planning assumptions going forward Market related – The Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment market is estimated to decline by -2% for full-year 2018 with 2% CAGR for 2017-2022. (Source: Dell’Oro) Currency exposure – Rule of thumb: A weakening by 10% of USD to SEK would have a negative impact of approximately -5% on net sales and approximately -1 percentage point on operating margin (based on 2017 full-year currency exposure). Ericsson related 2018; Sales – Sales growth in 2017 between Q3 and Q4 was 17%. – Due to strong sequential sales increase in the third quarter, lower effects from seasonality than normal are expected in the fourth quarter in Networks. Ericsson related 2018; Operating expenses – Gradually increased cost for field trials. – Operating expenses typically increase between Q3 and Q4 due to seasonality. – To further strengthen technology leadership, R&D expenses will increase primarily in Networks in Q4. – The divestment of Media Solutions is expected to be closed around year-end 2018 with estimated additional expenses of SEK -0.2 b. in Q4. Ericsson related 2018; Other – Restructuring charges for full-year 2018 are estimated to be SEK 5-7 b. – Actual and estimated net impact from amortization and capitalization of development expenses and from recognition and deferral of hardware costs:

 

The world needs a good news source on Internet and telecom policy. I hope to create one. Catch a mistake? Email me please.  Dave Burstein

Latest

Professor Noam's "Many Internets" http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a "network of networks," not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It's easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an "Internet" that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn't perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn't prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-hold-rally-on-internet-at-citi-field.html . More from Noam http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS
It's actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions ... This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa." RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets" are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT."
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables." Much more http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board http://bit.ly/CEOPromises
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised "a seat at the table" to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
"The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world," I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi's statements,http://bit.ly/CEOPromises

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling http://bit.ly/SorryPai
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, "The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers." #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran's sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can "prove" capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies' capex - two/thirds of the total - went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That's as close to "proving" that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors http://bit.ly/SorryPai

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More http://bit.ly/VintTim
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn't listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing "is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create." My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. ... The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order ... More, including the full list, http://bit.ly/VintTim