Verizon announced Friday that Hans Vestberg, the company’s chief technology officer, will become the new chief executive starting in August.
Current CEO Lowell McAdam, 64, will step down on Aug. 1, seven years after he took the helm of the company. He will stay on as executive chairman through the end of the year.
Vestberg, 52, joined the wireless provider last year and has been working on Verizon’s networks, including the 4G LTE network. Before joining Verizon, he worked at the networking and telecommunications company Ericsson, where he served six years as chief executive and president and also was chief financial officer.
Verizon tapped a technology expert as it races against other wireless carriers to develop a 5G network that would deliver faster speeds.
“For Verizon, the time for a change in leadership is now, and I am confident that Hans is the right person to bring Verizon through its next chapter,” McAdam said in a statement.
Verizon has typically relied on a strong wireless network to grow its customer base, but that strategy has faltered recently as competitors, such as T-Mobile, have improved their service and reputation with customers, said BTIG analyst Walt Piecyk.
“There are number of different ways Hans Vestberg could reshape Verizon’s future,” Piecyk said, adding that Verizon and other communications companies are “facing new competition and disruption to their existing business models.”
Verizon announced its succession plan less than a week before a judge is expected to rule on a merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Depending on the outcome, the case may encourage Vestberg to grow the company through the acquisition of a media company, a strategy the wireless carrier has mostly avoided in the past.
One of the most notable deals Verizon completed under McAdam was the $130 billion buyout of Vodafone’s wireless business in 2014. Under McAdam’s leadership, Verizon also acquired Yahoo and AOL.