EU tosses Nokia a small loan of €500m, tells it to go crazy with 5G R&D

Cites being left behind by US and China in tech stakes

The European Union reckons 5G R&D needs a boost – so it has slung a loan of €500m in the general direction of Finland.

Nokia, recipient of the loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), hasn't identified specific goals for its development effort.

However, EIB president Alexander Stubb told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that Europe needs to catch up with the countries it sees as the powerhouses of 5G – China and the USA.

"We have to understand that China and the US have moved fast with the 5G. It is very important to have European companies going in for this competition," Stubb said (story in Finnish).

"This single loan relates specifically to innovation, that is, we see 5G as Europe's future, because we have two European companies in this area."

He identified Nokia R&D centres in France, Finland, Germany and Poland as likely beneficiaries of the loan.

The company had already set aside €4bn for R&D this financial year, and much of that will be spent on 5G.

Nokia CFO Kristian Pullola said: "This financing bolsters our 5G research efforts and continues the broader momentum we have already seen this year."

The loan comes in a climate increasingly hostile to Chinese giant Huawei, which is viewed with suspicion by the UK and US, and subject to an outright ban on competing for 5G projects in Australia.

Nokia will be able to draw on the loan over the next 18 months. Repayment is due five years after disbursement.

Ericsson received a €250m loan from the EU at the end of May, also focused on 5G development. ®

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