Microsoft cleared to buy Nokia mobile phone unit
Nokia shareholders cleared the sale of its mobile-phone unit to Microsoft in a €5.44bn deal, unshackling the Finnish company from the unprofitable division and letting it focus on networks.
Shareholders meeting in Helsinki approved the sale of the business that makes Lumia smartphones and Asha feature phones to the software giant, Nokia officials announced at the event. More than 99pc voted in favour of the disposal.
The sale lets the Finnish company concentrate on its network-equipment unit while freeing it from a shrinking business that struggled to gain ground against Apple and Samsung. The deal is the largest strategic change for Nokia since it stopped making rubber boots and tyres and left businesses such as paper more than two decades ago.
"Continuing our existing strategy would have resulted in great difficulties," chairman Risto Siilasmaa told investors. "We have no doubt that this is the right decision."
Nokia agreed to sell the phone division in September, after failing to regain relevance in smartphones following Apple's iPhone introduction in 2007. Once the world's largest smartphone maker with a market share topping 50pc, Nokia now ranks outside the top five with a 3pc share.
Shares of Nokia have almost doubled since the deal was announced, bringing its value to about €22bn. The stock fell 3pc in Helsinki yesterday.
Nokia's Stephen Elop, who joined as chief executive officer three years ago from Microsoft, scrapped the phonemaker's own operating system in favour of his former employer's Windows software. Mr Elop will get more than €18m for completing the divestment and is a contender to be Microsoft's next CEO.