Nokia shareholders reportedly approve $7.35B deal with Microsoft

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) shareholders approved the $7.35 billion sale of the company's devices and services unit to partner Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), according to multiple reports.

There was no official announcement from Nokia about the company's extraordinary general meeting, but Agence France-Presse reported that the deal had gone through, and said that Nokia reported the deal was almost unanimously approved (99.7 percent) by shareholders who had voted ahead of the meeting in Helsinki. The deal is expected to close in early 2014.

Under the agreement, which was first announced in early September, Microsoft will acquire Nokia's devices and services unit and a license to its patents and mapping software. Roughly 32,000 Nokia employees are expected to transfer to Microsoft, which is positioning itself as a "devices and services" company as CEO Steve Ballmer prepares to retire. Stephen Elop, who was formerly Nokia's CEO and a Microsoft executive, is currently serving as executive vice president of Nokia's devices and services unit. He stepped down as CEO when the deal was announced, but is expected to return to Microsoft and is widely seen as a leading contender to succeed Ballmer.  

In addition to maintaining the Lumia Windows Phone smartphone business, Microsoft has said it will use Nokia's low-end feature phone business to "extend its service offerings to a far wider group around the world while allowing Nokia's mobile phones to serve as an on-ramp to Windows Phone."

Microsoft has a long road ahead of it to making Windows Phone a strong contender to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, even with Nokia's hardware businesses inside of it. According to research firm Gartner, Windows Phone captured 3.6 percent of the global smartphone market--still paltry compared to Android and iOS, but up from 2.3 percent in the year-ago period.

In the third quarter, Nokia shipped a record 8.8 million Lumias in the quarter, up from 7.4 million in the second quarter and up significantly from 2.9 million in the third quarter of 2012. In North America, Nokia scored a major win in device sales in the quarter, recording 1.4 million unit sales, almost all of which were certainly Lumias. That figure is up from 300,000 units in the year-ago period and 500,000 in the second quarter. During the summer Nokia launched Lumias through AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and others, including the 928 at Verizon, 925 at T-Mobile and 1020 from AT&T.

Nokia appears poised to continue its forward momentum in the holiday season, with new devices such as the Lumia 1520 phablet device and its first tablet, the Lumia 2520, which runs Microsoft's Windows RT operating system.

Following the close of the deal, Nokia Solutions and Networks, or NSN, will remain the largest unit of what will be left of the company, and Nokia's interim CEO Risto Siilasmaa, has said Nokia "will continue to manage NSN as a strong, independent unit." The company hopes its HERE mapping and location services platform, which it will license to other companies, will become more important as more devices are connected to the cloud and connected cars become more of a reality. Finally, the Nokia is banking on its Advanced Technologies division to serve as a research and development hub within the company.

For many in Finland, losing Nokia's hardware business has been a bitter pill to swallow, given the company's heritage and standing in the country. Many Finns were outraged at Elop's multimillion-dollar bonus, after years of losses and tens of thousands of job cuts, but politicians and others have said that the deal will open up new opportunities for tech startups in Finland.  

For more:
- see this AFP article
- see this AllThingsD article

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