£4.6bn Microsoft Nokia Deal Receives US Regulatory Approval

Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s handset business clears another hurdle ahead of expected EU approval

Microsoft’s proposed £4.6 billion takeover of Nokia’s devices and services business has cleared another regulatory hurdle, with US antitrust regulators giving the acquisition its seal of approval.

According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the US Department of Justice approved the acquisition last week, meaning European regulators are the only remaining hurdle to the completion of the transaction.

However this is expected be straightforward, with reports last week suggesting that the EU was preparing to grant the deal “unconditional approval” ahead of a self-imposed deadline of 4 December.

Microsoft Nokia takeover

Nokia Lumia 525 4Nokia has so far received approvals from regulators in India, Israel, Russia and Turkey, and the company is seeking approval in 12 other countries in addition to the EU. It expects the transaction to close in the first quarter of 2014.

Nokia shareholders gave their blessing to the deal at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in Helsinki last month, marking the end of the Finnish firm’s 30 year association with mobile phone manufacturing.

The firm was the most successful smartphone maker from the beginning of the century until the arrival of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android wiped away its lead. More recently it joined Microsoft’s Windows Phone initiative in early 2011, becoming the most successful device manufacturer for that platform.

Microsoft will hope the acquisition of Nokia’s handset business will strengthen the mobile operating system and increase its share of the smartphone market.

Nokia will be left with its Here Maps, advanced technology and network solutions businesses, with the firm’s most recent quarterly results offering positive signs to its future. Nokia posted sales figures of €5.7 billion (£4.9bn) in the second quarter of 2013, but €2.9 billion (£2.5bn), more than half, of this was generated by the divisions that Microsoft is not acquiring.

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