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Microsoft's Nokia buyout gets thumbs up from China

Deal is on track to close later this month
Tue Apr 08 2014, 14:57

Nokia Lumia 930 with Windows Phone 8.1

CHINESE AUTHORITIES have given Microsoft's €5.4bn buyout of Nokia's devices division the thumbs up, with the deal expected to be completed later this month.

Nokia announced on Wednesday that China's Ministry of Commerce has improved the multi-billion pound acquisition, which means the deal has cleared a significant hurdle, with the regulators having asked for more time to "study its effects".

It has set some conditions, however, to ensure that the buyout doesn't create a monopoly or harm Android smartphone makers. In particular, Chinese regulators are concerned that Microsoft could use its patents to gain an edge in the Chinese mobile market, where Android accounts for 80 percent of smartphones sold.

To keep the regulators happy, Microsoft has promised that it won't use "fundamental patents" to seek product bans on Android handsets. It added that it also will not increase its patent licensing costs following the deal's closure.

Microsoft said, "There was an important principle with which MOFCOM approached these discussions from the beginning: any commitments should be focused on how our future conduct might change after we own the Nokia Devices and Services business, and should not impact our licenses signed in the past or historical practices."

China's approval process included a "thorough" review of Nokia's patent licensing practices, and it seemed pleased with the firm's behaviour.

Nokia said in a statement, "The regulatory approval process has involved a thorough review of Nokia's patent licensing practices by several competition authorities around the world.

"During that process, no authority has challenged Nokia's compliance with its FRAND undertakings related to standard-essential patents (licensing on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms) or requested that Nokia make changes to its licensing program or royalty terms."

As the firms announced last month, Microsoft and Nokia expect the deal to close later this month, although they have not specified a date. µ


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