Nokia names new permanent chief legal officer

Esa Niinimäki made CLO after serving in role on interim basis following departure of Nassib Abou-Khalil last year

Finnish telecoms giant Nokia has appointed Esa Niinimäki as its permanent chief legal officer. 

Niinimäki, a veteran of the firm of more than 15 years, had served in the role on an interim basis since last October following the departure of previous CLO Nassib Abou-Khalil.

Niinimäki joined Nokia in 2007 from Metsä Group, where he was group legal counsel, and earlier in his career was an associate at White & Case. 

Before becoming interim CLO at Nokia he defined governance practices for the company as deputy chief legal officer and earlier served as general counsel of its global services business group and senior legal counsel, legal and IP, for the IMEA region. 

As CLO, Niinimäki will report to Nokia’s president and chief executive officer, Pekka Lundmark.

“[Niinimäki ] is an experienced leader who has been an influential contributor to Nokia’s strategy,” Lundmark said. “He has a strong vision for Nokia’s legal function and will ensure it continues to be a strategic partner to the business. I am delighted to announce his appointment as chief legal officer.” 

 Niinimäki added: “Nokia has a strong ethics culture with compliance as a key value, uniting the efforts of the business and legal teams,” “I am honored to lead this best-in-class legal and compliance function and be member of the group leadership team as the company continues its strategic transformation.”

For his part, Abou-Khalil had been with Nokia since 2014 after joining from Yahoo, where he was head of public policy for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region and general counsel for the Middle East and Africa. He became CLO at Nokia in 2019, after serving in a number of senior roles at the company including general counsel for global customer operations and deputy CLO for business.

In 2021, he unveiled one of the most comprehensive schemes to date by an in-house legal team targeted at promoting diversity among legal advisers.

As part of the initiative, Nokia said it would score its panel firms quarterly and annually in order to determine whether they have taken steps to implement effective E, I&D strategies. Firms taking part in the scheme included Eversheds Sutherland, Roschier, Bird & Bird, Quinn Emanuel, McKool Smith and Alston & Bird.

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