Nokia Elop denies Microsoft takeover as CTO quits

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop today denied rumours that the troubled mobile maker would be the subject of a takeover by software giant Microsoft, as reports emerged that his CTO, Rich Green, had quit.

Delivering the keynote address at the Open Mobile Summit in London today, ex-Microsoft man Elop told attendees: "All the rumours are baseless".

Speculation over an increasingly close relationship has been building since February, when the two companies outlined a "strategic partnership" under which Nokia would develop handsets for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system - the first time the Finnish company has created devices for another company's OS.

As Elop made his speech, reports emerged that Nokia's chef technical officer, Rich Green, may have quit, having taken leave from the company until the end of the year - possibly permanently. Nokia told news agency AFP that Green had taken leave "to attend to a personal matter".

Green's departure follows a turbulent few months at the mobile maker. While Nokia remains the largest maker of mobile phones in the world, the company has suffered a decline in its fortunes in the high-end smartphone market as its Symbian operating system has lost ground to the Apple iPhone and devices based on Google's Android OS. Nokia's share of the smartphone market has fallen from 44.2 per cent to 27.4 per cent in the last 12 months.

Despite Elop's attempts to play down talk of a takeover, Nokia appears to be pinning hopes of reviving its fortunes on Microsoft. The Finnish company recently announced that it was to abandon its collaboration on the Linux-based MeeGo smartphone OS. The move followed an earlier announcement that Symbian development would be scaled back with the loss of 4,000 jobs in Finland.

A recent statement by the company announcing that it would have to cancel financial forecasts for the following quarter led to Nokia shares falling nearly 25 per cent to a 13-year low.