China Approves Microsoft, Nokia Deal With Conditions on Prices

China’s Ministry of Commerce approved Microsoft Corp.’s bid to take over Nokia Oyj’s phone business after winning pledges from both that the transaction won’t mean higher fees for the nation’s smartphone makers.

Microsoft pledged not to raise fees for its patents after the deal is complete, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s website. Nokia pledged no large changes in its current compensation structure for standard-essential patents.

Chinese regulatory approval follows sign-off from the European Commission, the U.S. Justice Department and other jurisdictions and will allow the transaction to close this month, Espoo, Finland-based Nokia said in a statement today. Chinese phone makers including Huawei Technologies Co. had asked China to set conditions on the deal, two government officials with knowledge of the matter said last year.

“Chinese regulatory approval has been the remaining hurdle and now we expect the deal to close swiftly during April,” said Sami Sarkamies, an analyst at Nordea Bank AB in Helsinki. “China is a key mobile devices market representing already a third of the global market volume.”

No government authorities requested the company make changes to its licensing or royalty terms, Nokia said in its statement.

Microsoft won’t ban Chinese phone makers from using patents needed to comply with a technical standard, according to the statement from the Chinese regulator.

New Strategy

Joanna Li, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Microsoft, said she didn’t immediately have information available on the ministry’s decision.

Nokia has said completion of the transaction will allow it to unveil its new strategy and chief executive.

Rajeev Suri, the head its networks business, is among candidates for the top job. The new CEO will try to revive 149-year-old Nokia, which is intensifying its focus on wireless-network equipment as it faces a new start without the mobile-phone business that made it famous.

— With assistance by Edmond Lococo, and Adam Ewing

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