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Nokia shareholders overwhelmingly approve sale of handset division to Microsoft news
20 November 2013

The sale of Nokia's ailing cellphone division along with a portfolio of patents and services has received massive support from shareholders.

The share holders overwhelmingly approved the sale to Microsoft Corp for 5.4 billion ($7.2 billion).

The vote came at the end of a five-hour extraordinary meeting of shareholders yesterday called by the Finnish phone maker that had seen its global market share shrink as it battled stiff competition from Apple and Google Inc in the lucrative smartphone trade.

The approval, representing 99.5 per cent of shares owned by 3,900 voters at the meeting had been widely expected, with the company's stock price having doubled since announcement of the deal in September.

The stock, however, closed down 3 per cent at 5.82 on the Helsinki Stock Exchange yesterday.

Shareholders braving the chilly November weather, in the Finnish capital attended the much-anticipated meeting.

Chairman Risto Siilasmaa said he was aware that the sale "would raise deep feelings" among Finns for whom Nokia was a symbol of the small Nordic country's success, though he added, it was the best deal for the company and the best offer for the loss-making devices unit.

Preliminary results showed, around 90 per cent of shareholders who registered to vote in advance voted in favour, while 5,000 shareholders, representing 45 per cent of Nokia's shares, were registered for the meeting.

The meeting drew the biggest turnout (3200) for a Nokia shareholder event in the company's long history.

The company was established in 1865, and rose to national prominence in Finland as it took the lead in the global cellphone business.

Siilasmaa told shareholders Nokia was selling a "loss-making business for a good price." The third quarter, had seen the once-dominant handset business lose 86 million, while Nokia's other business areas recorded an operating profit of 180 million.

After the handset business is sold off, Nokia would focus on wireless networks, patents and the mapping business.

Earlier yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Nokia had considered acquisition of parts of French network-gear maker Alcatel-Lucent, but it was not interested in making acquisitions at the moment.

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Nokia shareholders overwhelmingly approve sale of handset division to Microsoft