It's a done deal! Microsoft-Nokia merger to close on Friday

Redmond to be a smartphone maker under new boss Nadella

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Microsoft has finally cleared all of the international regulatory hurdles that it needed to overcome for it to close its acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services business.

"The transaction will be completed this Friday, April 25, when we'll officially welcome the Nokia Devices and Services business as part of the Microsoft family," Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith wrote in a blog post on Monday.

Completing the merger has been a long slog for the two companies, which originally announced the deal in September. The late-April final closing date almost missed Smith's earlier prediction of "April 2014," to say nothing of Microsoft's original estimate that the deal would close in the first quarter of this year, which has already passed.

Most of the delays have been due to legal wranglings with various governments worldwide. While some jurisdictions were fairly quick to give the merger the thumbs-up, such as the US and Europe, China, for example, was a particular holdout, apparently due to concerns over patent policy.

In the meantime, longtime Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer – who presided over the deal – stepped down, to be replaced by Redmond insider Satya Nadella. Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was long thought to be on the short list for the chief executive role, but he will instead continue to head the Nokia division within Microsoft, reporting to Nadella.

There has been some speculation that Redmond might change the name of the division to "Microsoft Mobile" or something similar, but Smith made no reference to this or any other rebranding in his blog post.

Some aspects of the deal have changed since September, however. For one thing, Microsoft now says it will take on the 21 Nokia employees working on mobile phones in China, when previously they were to stay with Nokia.

Microsoft has also agreed to manage the nokia.com domain and any relevant social media sites for a minimum of one year, something that hadn't been discussed in the original negotiations.

On the other hand, the software giant has changed its mind about acquiring Nokia's manufacturing facility in Masan, South Korea. Nokia maintains other manufacturing plants in a number of countries, including China, Hungary, India, Mexico, and Vietnam. It's not immediately clear whether it now plans to keep the Korean facility or sell it off.

Following the divestiture of its handset division, the remaining Finnish portion of Nokia says it plans to concentrate on non-phone businesses, including its HERE mapping division, the Nokia Solutions and Networks telecoms group, and gee-whiz future tech like self-driving cars. ®


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