Nokia announced it has taken control of Alcatel-Lucent after receiving approval from France's securities watchdog agency for the $17 billion deal. Nokia will hold nearly 80 percent of its former rival, and the companies will begin working "as an operationally combined group" on Jan. 14.
The acquisition was first announced in April 2015, and Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent have previously received approval from U.S. and European regulators for the merger. Nokia said that once the transaction closes it will spend $7.6 billion "to optimize its capital structure and return excess capital to Nokia shareholders."
The companies aim to create a new European powerhouse in the telecom gear market in an effort to better compete with market leader Ericsson and Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE. Ericsson and Huawei shared the worldwide LTE infrastructure market share lead during the second quarter of 2015, according to data from IHS, with each company claiming more than 20 percent.
But Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent aren't alone in teaming up for a better position. Ericsson and Cisco recently unveiled plans to form a business and technology partnership, noting that the collaboration would be "faster and more efficient" than a merger.
"We will move quickly to combine the two companies and execute our integration plans," Nokia President and CEO Rajeev Suri said in prepared remarks. "We will have unparalleled R&D and innovation capabilities, which we will use to lead the world in creating next-generation technology and services."
The combined Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent will count Verizon, T-Mobile and other major U.S. wireless carriers as customers.
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