A few months after Microsoft Corp. initially announced its purchase of Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia, the U.S. government has now given its blessing on the $7 billion acquisition.
In a report filed on Dec. 2, the Federal Trade Commission granted early termination (PDF) of the deal for Nokia and all of its global subsidiaries. Now, Microsoft only needs to wait for approval from the European Union before it can officially close the deal.
“We look forward to the date when our partners at Nokia will become members of the Microsoft family, and are pleased that the Department of Justice has cleared the deal unconditionally,” a Microsoft spokesman told The Verge.
Pending EU approval, the deal is currently expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014.
In a conversation in the November 2013 edition InsideCounsel, Microsoft GC Brad Smith said that the Microsoft-Nokia deal allows his company to expand horizontally, picking up key patents in the smartphone war. “It gives us the chance to add a business that is complementary to our own,” Smith said, “transitioning us from a pure software company to a devices and services company.”
Microsoft previously partnered with Nokia to produce Nokia Lumia phones with Microsoft’s Windows operating system, but Smith said that this deal will allow the company to be more streamlined. “We see this acquisition enabling us to innovate faster, bringing hardware and software together to ensure a better experience for customers, improve economics in the market, grow market share and be a more profitable player in the mobile space,” Smith explains.
The goal, he said, is to compete with the current major players in the smartphone market, as a small group of companies holding a large portion of the market share. That’s why Microsoft did not expect any government interference in the deal from the beginning: “Microsoft is a small participant in a marketplace dominated by Google and Apple. This acquisition will add competition to the market, and regulators like to see acquisitions that add competition to the market, so there is a lot for people to like about this.”
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