The sale of Nokia’s phone business to Microsoft isn’t likely to be finalised until April, according to analysts, as talks with Asian regulators are reportedly proving to be far more protracted than originally expected.
Nokia had reportedly expected to have the deal ratified by March, but it has been suggested that the Finnish firm may have to make further concessions over license fees relating to patents which the company wishes to retain, in order to gain final approval from regulators in the Far East.
The keen eye with which regulatory bodies are regarding the £4.5bn deal, could be the result of pressure from Google and Samsung, who allegedly approached Chinese regulators, stressing their concern that the deal should not lead to higher licensing fees.
“[The delay] is a bad sign. They have been discussing with authorities for quite a while already, and they still need more time,” said Sami Sarkamies, an analyst at Nordea Markets.
“The biggest risk is in the upside of their patents. It looks like Nokia will have to make bigger concessions to push the deal through.”
Despite the apparent set-back, both firms are still said to be committed to the deal. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president, went on the record, stating “We are nearing the final stages of our global regulatory approval process – to date we have received approvals from regulatory authorities in 15 markets on five continents. Currently, we are awaiting approval confirmation in the final markets.”
The Finnish firm stressed that it did not believe an ongoing tax investigation in India would impact the deal, but the looming shadow of a potential £251m tax claim certainly can’t be making things easier for the embattled company.