Nokia shareholders approve mobile phone sale to Microsoft

Nokia shareholders approve mobile phone sale to Microsoft
A photo illustration shows the Microsoft logo displayed on a Nokia phone in Vienna

HELSINKI - Finnish telecom company Nokia announced Tuesday that its shareholders have approved the 5.44 billion euro (S$9.17 billion) sale of its mobile phone division to US multinational Microsoft.

According to Nokia - which will now become a telecom equipment and services company - the deal was almost unanimously approved (99.7 percent) by shareholders who voted ahead of an extraordinary meeting in Helsinki.

The transfer of the handset business should take place in early 2014.

Once the world leader in mobile phones, Nokia lost its top place to South Korea's Samsung in 2012.

Although still number two in the overall mobile phone market, ahead of US giant Apple, the company now ranks eighth on the rapidly growing smartphone (internet enabled) market, according to telecom consultancy Gartner.

Nokia has been posting losses - 3.1 billion euros in 2012 and 590 million euros in the first nine months of 2013 - and the sale is an attempt to relaunch into more profitable business areas.

The decision by shareholders to shed the brand's last link to its once great phone empire was largely expected and the company's share price has doubled since the plan was announced in early September.

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