EU reportedly set to greenlight takeover but Chinese workers claim they are being forced to sign new, unfavourable, contracts
The European Union (EU) is reportedly set to grant regulatory approval for Microsoft’s £4.6 billion takeover of Nokia’s devices and services business.
According to Reuters, the EU watchdog will give an “unconditional” green light to the transaction, although its decision may not be known before a self-imposed deadline of 4 December. Regulators in a number of other countries have already provided their blessing to the deal, which was first announced in September, but Nokia would not respond to rumours of an imminent decision from the EU.
“As is common with transactions of this global scope, regulatory and other approvals are required in a number of countries,” a company spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. “So far, we have received approvals from regulators in India, Israel, Russia and Turkey and we continue to seek approvals in the EU and 13 further countries including the US and China. We’re still anticipating that the transaction will close in the first quarter of 2014.”
Nokia shareholders also approved the acquisition at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in Helsinki last week, marking the end of the Finnish firm’s 30 year association with mobile phone manufacturing. It will continue to operate with its Here Maps, advanced technology and network solutions businesses.
The firm was the most successful smartphone maker from the beginning of the century until the arrival of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android wiped away its lead. More recently it joined Microsoft’s Windows Phone initiative in early 2011, becoming the most successful device manufacturer for that platform.
Microsoft will hope the acquisition of Nokia’s handset business will strengthen the mobile operating system and increase its share of the smartphone market.
However not everyone is happy with the takeover. Workers at Nokia’s Chinese factory have reportedly vowed to continue with industrial action which was sparked by the planned takeover.
Fifty-nine employees had their contracts terminated for failing to return to work after participating in strikes caused by fears that Microsoft’s takeover will result in worse terms of employment. The affected workers were apparently told they had breached their contracts because they had refused to work.
Employees say they are being forced to sign new, unfavourable contracts, and have apparently been carrying banners stating “If you want to change the marriage, you have to first offer compensation.”
Nokia told Reuters that it had had held a number of sessions with disgruntled workers to try and dispel ‘rumours’ but this claim has been denied by strikers, who say there have been no negotiations. The company had not responded to TechWeekEurope’s requests for comment about the reported strikes at the time of publication.
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