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Nokia Says Completion of Microsoft Deal Delayed Until April

Nokia Store
A logo sits on a glass panel at Nokia Oyj's flagship store in Helsinki, Finland. Photographer: Henrik Kettunen/Bloomberg

March 24 (Bloomberg) -- Nokia Oyj, working to complete the sale of its mobile-phone division to Microsoft Corp., said the 5.44 billion-euro ($7.5 billion) transaction will be delayed until next month as Asian regulators review it.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, is buying the business and licensing some patents to challenge Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.’s dominance of the smartphone market. Espoo, Finland-based Nokia is selling the unprofitable unit to try to stem losses by focusing on wireless-network equipment.

The companies had previously projected a completion by the end of March. The transaction is pending approvals from “certain antitrust authorities in Asia,” and the companies remain committed to the deal, Nokia said today. In a blog posting, Microsoft said the regulatory approval process is nearing the final stages.

Rival mobile-phone makers including Huawei Technologies Co. and Samsung have expressed concern to China that the deal may result in higher patent licensing fees, government officials familiar with the matter said this month. China’s Ministry of Commerce is conducting an anti-monopoly review and is likely to approve the deal, the officials said.

Nokia and Microsoft already have approvals from regulators in 15 markets, including U.S. and European authorities.

Shares of Nokia fell 1.9 percent to 5.17 euros at 10:46 a.m. in Helsinki. They have advanced about 80 percent since the deal with Microsoft was announced in September.

Strategy Review

Nokia is evaluating its strategy for its future without the phone business. The company said today it aims to be able to discuss the outcome of the review at the end of April.

After the sale, Nokia will get about 90 percent of its revenue from base stations, antennas and other network equipment as well as related services it sells to wireless carriers. In that business, the company competes against Ericsson AB, Alcatel-Lucent SA and China’s Huawei.

In addition to network gear, Nokia has a digital-maps business and a unit that licenses its patents.

Tax disputes with Indian authorities won’t affect the timing of the Microsoft deal’s completion or material terms, Nokia said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ville Heiskanen in Helsinki at vheiskanen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net Ville Heiskanen

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