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Microsoft to Buy Nokia’s Devices Unit for $7.2 Billion

Microsoft Corp. is spending 5.44 billion euros ($7.2 billion) to buy Nokia Oyj’s handset unit so it can gain ground on Apple Inc. and Google Inc. in a smartphone market it let get away -- gaining a possible new chief executive officer in the process.

Nokia’s devices and services unit, which accounted for half of the company’s 2012 revenue, along with 32,000 employees, will transfer to Microsoft, the companies said. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, 49, will return to Microsoft after a three-year stint running the Finnish manufacturer. The move stoked speculation he may be a successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, who said last month he’d retire within 12 months.