Spotify’s Surprise New CFO

The surprise appointment of defense executive Christian Luiga as Spotify AB’s new CFO may have caused eyebrows to elevate outside Scandinavia, but closer to home, the reaction has been more muted.

Recognized as something of a corporate nomad gifted in the prized art of growing globally focused Nordic companies, Luiga has built his reputation and career on his skills at growing companies through well-crafted cross-border acquisitions. Luiga is slated to join Spotify in October.

When news broke early last month that Luiga would leave Nordic defense and security technologies giant Saab AB to join the Stockholm-headquartered audio streaming group, chatter within industry circles in Sweden centered on the number of times he has moved between different industry sectors and his multiple directorships across defense, mobile communications, and even retail and wholesale (Axfood AB). 

Luiga’s time as president and CEO of Telia AB, Scandinavia’s largest mobile communications group, may be the strongest indicator of his new direction at Spotify. At Telia, Luiga cut his teeth on deals including the purchase and integration of cloud and hosting services firm Ipeer AB, the Norwegian cable television operator and internet service provider Get AS, and the $1.1 billion takeover of commercial television operator TV4 Media (Bonnier Broadcasting) from Bonnier Group in 2018. At Saab, the impactful sequel to his unexpected departure will be the challenge of replacing him. CEO Micael Johansson publicly acknowledged that Luiga’s exit represents a setback for the company’s drive to achieve targeted growth and seize the opportunities in contracts and global partnerships arising from Sweden’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Saab’s share price has soared 300% since the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.