Nokia Shareholders Approve Acquisition by Microsoft AFP/Lehtikuva/Antti Aimo-Koivisto

Nokia Shareholders Approve Acquisition by Microsoft

Some grumbling, but shareholders OK sale

Despite early opposition to the deal, Nokia shareholders overwhelmingly approved Microsoft's $7.2 billion offer to acquire the company's devices and services businesses. The biggest hurdle in this transaction now behind it, Microsoft is expected to close on the purchase in the first quarter of 2014.

Shareholder approval of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's devices and services business was first reported by The Financial Times, which was present at an extraordinary general meeting in Helsinki, Finland. According to the publication, 99.7 percent of Nokia investors who voted before the meeting voted to approve the deal. About 5,000 shareholders attended the meeting in person.

Although that general meeting could continue throughout Tuesday—where shareholders are expected to vent against outgoing CEO Stephen Elop's unprecedented (and, many feel, undeserved) $26 million payout and a perceived undervaluing of the assets Nokia is selling—Microsoft does have regulatory hurdles to cross before the deal can be finalized. The biggest, perhaps, isantitrust regulators in the United States and Europe.

Microsoft announced its blockbuster deal to acquire Nokia's devices and services businesses in early September. Under the terms of the deal, Nokia is selling its hardware devices business—which includes its Lumia and Asha smartphones and its Nokia-branded handsets—and its devices-based software and services. Microsoft didn't, however, acquire Nokia's HERE mapping and navigation technologies, though it is licensing them broadly along with related Nokia patents. Mr. Elop, who worked at Microsoft before leading Nokia, also returned to the software giant as part of the deal. He's currently in the running for the CEO job at Microsoft, as well.

Nokia was once the best-selling mobile phone and smartphone maker worldwide. But moving slowly in the face of threats from Apple's iPhone and then Google Android, Nokia fell behind and began a quick slide. In 2011, the firm announced that it would adopt Microsoft's Windows Phone system in an attempt to differentiate, and while Nokia's devices are widely regarded, it was never able to return to its former unit sales levels. More important, perhaps, the company has been steadily losing money as it has lost market share.

Post-Microsoft deal, Nokia will emerge as a much smaller business that focuses on networking, HERE, and patents and R&D. More than 32,000 Nokia employees will join Microsoft as part of the transaction.

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