Skip to main content

China gives green light for Microsoft to acquire Nokia's mobile wing

China has approved Microsoft's deal to acquire Nokia's handset business, which is expected to close by the end of this month.

The transaction has already received regulatory approvals from the European Commission, the US Department of Justice, and a number of other jurisdictions.

Originally scheduled to close at the end of the first quarter, or March 31, the contract was put on hold while the firms awaited approval from the "final markets" in Asia.

Chinese authorities (MOFCOM) had concerns about Microsoft's patent policies, so as part of the deal, Redmond reiterated its commitment to licensing standards-essential patents.

"We look forward to working through the final details to complete our acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services business," a Microsoft spokeswoman said. "It has never been Microsoft's intention to change its existing patent licensing policies as a result of this transaction, so while we disagree with the concerns expressed by MOFCOM, the conditions imposed will not impact our future licensing practices.

In reaching its decision, MOFCOM concluded after its investigation that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone."

Redmond announced plans last year to acquire Nokia's devices and services business for €3.79 billion (£3.1 billion). The tech giant will also shell out another €1.65 billion (£1.36 billion) to license Nokia's patents for a grand total of €5.44 billion (£4.5 billion) in cash.

Several weeks after Nokia shareholders approved the deal, the US Justice Department gave it the stamp of approval in late November. The EU cleared the deal days later, concluding that the transaction "would not raise any competition concerns."

Now that China is on board, the purchase should soon be final, though an end date has not been revealed.

"The completion of this acquisition will mark the first step to bring Microsoft and the Nokia Devices and Services business together," Redmond general counsel Brad Smith said in a March statement. "Our acquisition will accelerate our mobile-first, cloud-first imperatives."

Last month, Nokia stressed that tax proceedings in India "have no bearing on the timing of the closing or the material deal terms of the anticipated transaction between Nokia and Microsoft." At noted by the AP, Nokia is fighting efforts to pay sales taxes on devices made at India's Chennai plant.

Nokia declined to comment further.