Germany Greenlights Nokia’s Symbian Buy

Nokia has moved one step closer to becoming a 63.3 percent shareholder in Symbian. German competition authorities,the Bundeskartellamt, have approved Nokia’s planned stake purchase from Psion. The next step: getting past the other Symbian stakeholders.

In February, Psion announced plans to sell its 31 percent stake in Symbian to Nokia. Under the terms of the deal, Nokia will pay about $250 million for the stake, including an initial payment of $174 million and a variable payment for each Symbian OS device sold during 2004 and 2005. In March, despite protests from one large shareholder, Psion’s shareholders approved the sale to Nokia. Approval from German authorities was the next hurdle the companies needed to clear to complete the sale.

Even with the authorities and respective company shareholders granting their approval of the deal, Nokia’s plan to own a majority stake could be foiled, however, because Symbian’s other shareholders have the right to increase their stakes before the deal is completed.

News source: WirelessWeek In March, Ericsson’s chief executive Carl Henric Svanberg told the Financial Times that Ericsson, along with Sony Ericsson, was looking into increasing its Symbian stake to a combined 27.6 percent (Ericsson currently holds a 17.5 percent stake and Sony Ericsson has a 1.5 percent stake). It remains to be seen whether Ericsson or any of the other shareholders will actually exercise their preemptive rights and boost their stakes.

“We welcome other shareholders’ participation,” Nokia’s chief technology officer, Pertti Korhonen, said in a statement. “A crucial part of Symbian’s staying power in the competitive mobile OS market will continue to be based on the multi-vendor ownership structure, which includes key handset manufacturers,” he said.

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