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$7.2B smartphone business sale seen as a win for Nokia, major gamble for Microsoft

post #1 of 59
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Microsoft's proposed $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia's handset division has been called as a victory for Nokia, completing its transformation into a network infrastructure business. But now the difficult task of gaining traction in the highly competitive smartphone hardware market will be Microsoft's job.

lumia


Microsoft's proposal to buy Nokia's smartphone division will "remove the albatross" that is Nokia's Device & Services business, analyst Maynard Um of Wells Fargo Securities said in a note to investors on Tuesday. He believes the deal will strengthen Nokia's balance sheet while retaining its intellectual property with a 10-year non-exclusive licensing agreement.

The deal will also immediately provide Nokia with $1.9 billion in convertible bonds. And Microsoft has signed a four-year strategic licensing agreement for Nokia's "Here" maps platform, in which Microsoft will pay Nokia separately to license its mapping and navigation products.

As part of the deal, Microsoft will be able to use the Nokia brand in a limited capacity on the company's "feature phone" platforms. Nokia will be unable to license its brand for use with mobile devices for a 30-month period after closing, and will not be able to use the brand on its own products until the end of 2016.

The sale of its handset division to Microsoft, as well as the buyout of the Nokia Siemens Network, has now transformed Nokia into an network infrastructure focused business, Um said. Microsoft, meanwhile, has inherited a business "fraught with peril given competitive forces and its limited product acceptance."

Investors in Nokia responded positively to the news after it was made public on Monday, sending the Finnish company's stock price surging more than 40 percent. But investors in Microsoft were not as encouraged by the deal, as shares of the Redmond, Wash., company tumbled more than 5 percent in pre-market trading Tuesday morning.

Microsoft and Nokia have been closely aligned since 2011, when Nokia abandoned its declining Symbian platform and embraced Microsoft's Windows Phone as its sole mobile operating system for the company's high-end smartphone lineup. But Windows Phone has failed to regain Microsoft much ground in the highly competitive smartphone space, where Apple's iOS and Google's Android are dominant.
post #2 of 59

Two wrongs don't make a right.

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post #3 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

Two wrongs don't make a right.

Indeed. Or, "the blind leading the blind".

This is certainly a victory for Nokia whilst MS ususally gets confused with the tech they purchase, if they need to integrate it. Personally I see fail written all over, but strangely I hope to be proven wrong. The WP8 interface at least is different, though I don't like the cut off text and the live tiles don't do anything for me.

Nokia used to have pretty easy to use menus, but those were dumb phones. Did they have anything smart in their smartphones? Easy to use menus and all that?
post #4 of 59
After seeing the news regarding "Microsoft acquiring Nokia mobile division" I looked up MSFT's actual press release. This is one of the most moronic deals I have ever seen in the tech space, and having worked for the #2 and #3 law firms in Silicon Valley I have seen a lot of deals.

MSFT actually acquired nothing more than the employees and factories for the phone division, not the name, which they will need to license from Nokia, and "Nokia will continue to own and manage the brand". MSFT will also only license the Nokia HERE mapping program under a four year deal, and Nokia related patents for 10 years and, very importantly, on a non-exclusive basis. They did not acquire some of the most valuable assets - mapping and the services businesses. Thus MSFT has acquired the money losing operations, which includes 10's of thousands of employees and uncompetitive manufacturing facilities based on geographic location, and left Nokia with the profitable services, patent licensing, and the potential for advertising and licensing for the mapping business. BRILLIANT!!!! This should work out well for them, in a Kin and Surface sort of way...
Edited by FreeRange - 9/3/13 at 6:29am
post #5 of 59

While they're at it, Microsoft might as well buy Blackberry as well.
 

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post #6 of 59

This analysis is bonkers. Nokia Siemens Networks lurches from small profits to massive losses and back again. The only reason that it's generating profit at the moment is that everyone is upgrading their equipment to 4G. Once that wave ends, NSN will be back in the red. The state of maps division is even worse. It has never made an annual profit. The only remaining piece of Nokia that's profitable is the patent licensing arm. 

 

This is the death of Nokia. This is the ultimate loss for Nokia. 

post #7 of 59

At what time the event invitations will be out?  I think they do it near noon if I am not mistaken

post #8 of 59
All this comes down to is an expensive CEO purchase.

It's evident in both the stocks this morning: MSFT down 5%, NOK up 45%.
post #9 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

All this comes down to is an expensive CEO purchase.

It's evident in both the stocks this morning: MSFT down 5%, NOK up 45%.


In Ballmer's mind this purchase appears the same as when Apple bought Next.

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post #10 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post

After seeing the news regarding "Microsoft acquiring Nokia mobile division" I looked up MSFT's actual press release. This is one of the most moronic deals I have ever seen in the tech space, and having worked for the #2 and #3 law firms in Silicon Valley I have seen a lot of deals.

MSFT actually acquired nothing more than the employees and factories for the phone division, not the name, which they will need to license from Nokia, and "Nokia will continue to own and manage the brand". MSFT will also only license the Nokia HERE mapping program under a four year deal, and Nokia related patents for 10 years and, very importantly, on a non-exclusive basis. They did not acquire some of the most valuable assets - mapping and the services businesses. Thus MSFT has acquired the money losing operations, which includes 10's of thousands of employees and uncompetitive manufacturing facilities based on geographic location, and left Nokia with the profitable services, patent licensing, and the potential for advertising and licensing for the mapping business. BRILLIANT!!!! This should work out well for them, in a Kin and Surface sort of way...

Ballmer had to go out with a splash.


I agree. In fact, you've missed one of the big problems with this.

Microsoft's business (at least in the computer world) is about software. They license Windows and Office to OEMs on an equal basis, so no one has any advantage other than the advantages they can create for themselves. With Surface and now with cell phones, Microsoft is putting themselves in competition with their licensees.

It's much like the line from the Karate Kid about learning karate: "Learning Karate is like crossing the road. If you stay on one side (traditional Microsoft software licensing), you're safe. If you go clear to the other side (Apple focus on hardware with software being used to help sell hardware), you're safe. If you go halfway, you get run over."

Microsoft appears to be going halfway - and it's not at all clear that this will be successful.
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
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post #11 of 59

This is supposed to change what? Nokia already makes Windows phones, so Nokia will lose Symbian completely for the Asha line? Fire Ballmer now b**ches.

post #12 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

In Ballmer's mind this purchase appears the same as when Apple bought Next.

It looks like that was the idea.

post #13 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post

After seeing the news regarding "Microsoft acquiring Nokia mobile division" I looked up MSFT's actual press release. This is one of the most moronic deals I have ever seen in the tech space, and having worked for the #2 and #3 law firms in Silicon Valley I have seen a lot of deals.

MSFT actually acquired nothing more than the employees and factories for the phone division, not the name, which they will need to license from Nokia, and "Nokia will continue to own and manage the brand". MSFT will also only license the Nokia HERE mapping program under a four year deal, and Nokia related patents for 10 years and, very importantly, on a non-exclusive basis. They did not acquire some of the most valuable assets - mapping and the services businesses. Thus MSFT has acquired the money losing operations, which includes 10's of thousands of employees and uncompetitive manufacturing facilities based on geographic location, and left Nokia with the profitable services, patent licensing, and the potential for advertising and licensing for the mapping business. BRILLIANT!!!! This should work out well for them, in a Kin and Surface sort of way...

True dat, but Microsoft probably doesn't see the name Nokia as valuable anymore. No one ever cared about Nokia but a few loyalists. Microsoft can start their own brand or use windows, xbox or surface to brand their phones. So now they've got the factories the workers and the patents to do it. Was it worth 7 bill? I don't think apple needed 7 billion to get into the phone market, but windows not only thinks it can afford anything, but they see this as their last chance to stay relevant, and the number one software co in the world.
post #14 of 59

Ballmer's final screwup before taking a hike?

 

Or is it possible that this is NOT Ballmer's idea and that's why he is being eased out?


Edited by lkrupp - 9/3/13 at 8:01am
post #15 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by murman View Post

This is supposed to change what? Nokia already makes Windows phones, so Nokia will lose Symbian completely for the Asha line? Fire Ballmer now b**ches.

They already did that but he's still spending money like a drunk sailor! I suppose if I had access to a billion dollar checkbook I might be tempted to spend a little on some Finnish strange before the boot was official.
post #16 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor David View Post


They already did that but he's still spending money like a drunk sailor! I suppose if I had access to a billion dollar checkbook I might be tempted to spend a little on some Finnish strange before the boot was official.


I think Microsoft's Board is rudderless. They've hit some choppy seas and nobody knows what to do. Panic has set in.

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post #17 of 59

Assumptions:

1. This deal has been cooking for a while. The board was aware. (Sub-assumption: they support the deal.)

2. This deal was cinched simply because he needs to finish with negotiations.

3. There are other big tasks that Ballmer will need to wrap up before leaving.

post #18 of 59
I had a glimmer of hope for Microsoft's next CEO before this move by Ballmer, but now, not sure. It will take them years to find direction for the company. This move takes them one step back. Balmier is trying to recreate his last success, Xbox, in the cellphone world. But this market is different, ur not simply competing against Nintendo and Sony, ur competing against 100 models. This was the only obvious move he had left, but not a good one. I can't imagine any companies creating more windows phones anymore, or trying their best anyway. Microsoft is finally seen for what they always were, a company that copies to make quick cash. They were never anything more. Android beat them to the punch this time, so there's no place for them. I hope they learned more than just to copy quicker next time.
post #19 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post

After seeing the news regarding "Microsoft acquiring Nokia mobile division" I looked up MSFT's actual press release. This is one of the most moronic deals I have ever seen in the tech space, and having worked for the #2 and #3 law firms in Silicon Valley I have seen a lot of deals.

MSFT actually acquired nothing more than the employees and factories for the phone division, not the name, which they will need to license from Nokia, and "Nokia will continue to own and manage the brand". MSFT will also only license the Nokia HERE mapping program under a four year deal, and Nokia related patents for 10 years and, very importantly, on a non-exclusive basis. They did not acquire some of the most valuable assets - mapping and the services businesses. Thus MSFT has acquired the money losing operations, which includes 10's of thousands of employees and uncompetitive manufacturing facilities based on geographic location, and left Nokia with the profitable services, patent licensing, and the potential for advertising and licensing for the mapping business. BRILLIANT!!!! This should work out well for them, in a Kin and Surface sort of way...

That is exactly Microsoft's strategy: stubbornly fight against an entrenched market leader until they fold. Their plan is to relentlessly execute on Ballmer's "devices and services" strategy until (they hope) their competition stumbles. What other hope do they have? Microsoft has the reserves to fight a losing war, whereas a Nokia, Palm, and BlackBerry don't. It was inevitable that MS would buy one of them, and obvious which one.

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post #20 of 59
Don't forget Nokia has been a huge worldwide brand, and previous dominator of the low price market.

The name is instantly known to most people, the only problem is that it is known as a big name from the past.

It's hard to think of buying a business in decline as a smart move.

Then you have the problem of such a well known brand taking over Nokia... If MS took over the Apple brand would people assume nothing would change?

I think most people will think MS is going kill any desirability left in Nokia.

But... Time will tell, huge restructuring etc and a fresh face for CEO?
post #21 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by iRon man View Post

Don't forget Nokia has been a huge worldwide brand, and previous dominator of the low price market.

The name is instantly known to most people, the only problem is that it is known as a big name from the past.

It's hard to think of buying a business in decline as a smart move.

Then you have the problem of such a well known brand taking over Nokia... If MS took over the Apple brand would people assume nothing would change?

I think most people will think MS is going kill any desirability left in Nokia.

But... Time will tell, huge restructuring etc and a fresh face for CEO?


If Microsoft really wanted to fix things then replacing Ballmer a long time ago with damn near anybody would have been a smarter move then this deal.  jmho

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post #22 of 59
Steve felt it was his duty to f*** up one last time before let it go!

What exactly did he spend $7.2B for???

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....the lack of properly optimized apps is one of the reasons "why the experience on Android tablets is so crappy".

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post #23 of 59
Let's hope this isn't the next [of] Kin deal.
post #24 of 59
Don't think for a moment though that this isn't a company decision, and not just solely Balmers.

It's not like they'd let a guy on his way out make spontaneous purchases a few billion...

Maybe they thought if they didn't someone else would jump in there and buy Nokia first?
post #25 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


Indeed. Or, "the blind leading the blind".

This is certainly a victory for Nokia whilst MS ususally gets confused with the tech they purchase, if they need to integrate it. Personally I see fail written all over, but strangely I hope to be proven wrong. The WP8 interface at least is different, though I don't like the cut off text and the live tiles don't do anything for me.

Nokia used to have pretty easy to use menus, but those were dumb phones. Did they have anything smart in their smartphones? Easy to use menus and all that?

 

I'm glad Nokia is coming out of it alright.  They made horrible phones IMO, but they are a grand old company that has been around for many decades.  It's nice to see them transform once again but still survive. 

post #26 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post


I think Microsoft's Board is rudderless. They've hit some choppy seas and nobody knows what to do. Panic has set in.

 

The "rudder" is supposed to be Bill Gates, but if you ignore his glowing autobiography, his tech "vision" has been completely wrong more times than Balmers.  I think this shows that while they got rid of Balmer, they are still executing on his general plan to consolidate everything under one roof, double-down on following Apple into the hardware market, and ignore the many sensible suggestions that they should get out of the consumer sphere altogether.  

 

All good news for Apple.  Microsoft cannot possibly execute this plan, but it will be three to five years before they realise it and start paring things away or changing course.  

 

They will have to buy a PC manufacturer next, to continue on this path (to oblivion). 

post #27 of 59

When Elop left M$ to go to Nokia I said he was sent there to help M$ buy them, here we are 2 yrs later and Elop is now coming back to M$ with probably a big bonus for the sale of Nokia. At least M$ did not over pay as Google did for Motorola. M$ now have access to all the Nortel mobile communication patents as well and now all of the Nokia ones. 

 

Google thought they had a strong position in the patent wars with the Motorola treasure trove, but the courts many them radio active. Now Apple and M$ have a stock pile of patents to defend against Google.

post #28 of 59

"Designed by Microsoft in Finland" just doesn't have the same ring to it as Apple's slogan.

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post #29 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post

After seeing the news regarding "Microsoft acquiring Nokia mobile division" I looked up MSFT's actual press release. This is one of the most moronic deals I have ever seen in the tech space, and having worked for the #2 and #3 law firms in Silicon Valley I have seen a lot of deals.

MSFT actually acquired nothing more than the employees and factories for the phone division, not the name, which they will need to license from Nokia, and "Nokia will continue to own and manage the brand". MSFT will also only license the Nokia HERE mapping program under a four year deal, and Nokia related patents for 10 years and, very importantly, on a non-exclusive basis. They did not acquire some of the most valuable assets - mapping and the services businesses. Thus MSFT has acquired the money losing operations, which includes 10's of thousands of employees and uncompetitive manufacturing facilities based on geographic location, and left Nokia with the profitable services, patent licensing, and the potential for advertising and licensing for the mapping business. BRILLIANT!!!! This should work out well for them, in a Kin and Surface sort of way...

Maybe this arrangement has Microsoft play the part of the "bad guy" so those thousands of workers will be fired in a year or less. Shifts the blame and the liability to Microsoft. They have no long-term ties to those workers.

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post #30 of 59
How is it that Apple was able to create a game-changing smartphone from scratch, and Microsoft with all it's touted talent has to buy a ready-made solution? Maybe Apple really IS "Different," and it's not just hype.
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post #31 of 59
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post #32 of 59

OMG! I have to admit I was surprised by this! So the new Phones will no longer carry the Nokia brand? Will they just be called Microsoft phones? Strange how Microsoft has chosen to follow the Apple route and become a Software AND Hardware company in this business segment... Designed by Microsoft in Redmond"? LOL...


So with Apple, Google and Microsoft all offering complete solutions... what will Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony do? Will they release their own OSs? Will they simply fork Android and linger on Google until "big brother" decides otherwise? It'll sure be interesting to see how it all unfolds in the coming months-years...

post #33 of 59

Microsoft got patents to things like pureview.  It also now has the patent agreement nokia had with qualcom. Microsoft also got any Patents that nokia shared with qualcom. The Microsoft PDF states they got over 8500 patents with the purchase. This purchase also gives Microsoft an option to have a perpetual license to nokias patents that they did not sell to Microsoft.

 

So it does benefit Microsoft for the patents alone.

post #34 of 59

Consumers don't care about Windows Phone *already*, with all of Nokia's and MS' combined effort. 

 

What's going to change that will make this redundant platform (in light of Android and iOS) relevant?

 

Who cares for or wants a Windows Phone when you've already got iOS at the Premium end, and Android serving all other price-points?

post #35 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by murman View Post

This is supposed to change what? Nokia already makes Windows phones, so Nokia will lose Symbian completely for the Asha line? Fire Ballmer now b**ches.

 

Nokia's Asha line doesn't use Symbian, it uses Nokia OS. Symbian died with the Nokia 808 Pureview.

post #36 of 59
This could be a loser deal for MSFT for many reasons, however I don't see why not having use of the Nokia brandname would be one of them. They could brand future phones from this acquisition by Microsoft, or something else by Microsoft, can't they? Microsoft, for all its failures still remains a strong brand.
post #37 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by rajaram View Post

This could be a loser deal for MSFT for many reasons, however I don't see why not having use of the Nokia brandname would be one of them. They could brand future phones from this acquisition by Microsoft, or something else by Microsoft, can't they? Microsoft, for all its failures still remains a strong brand.

For the latest on what happens when a software company spends billions of dollars buying a hardware company, let's return to the Google - Motorola Mobility saga:

http://www.fosspatents.com/2013/09/german-appeals-court-lifts-googles.html
Quote:
German appeals court lifts Google's bogus patent injunction over push email against Apple's iCloud
Google wasted a ton of money on Motorola's patents. As of today, it has zero -- I repeat, zero -- enforceable patent injunctions in place against Apple and Microsoft, after almost three years of litigation. By contrast, Apple and Microsoft have scored a number of real wins against Motorola Mobility.
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post #38 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

As part of the deal, Microsoft will be able to use the Nokia brand in a limited capacity on the company's "feature phone" platforms. Nokia will be unable to license its brand for use with mobile devices for a 30-month period after closing, and will not be able to use the brand on its own products until the end of 2016.

The sale of its handset division to Microsoft, as well as the buyout of the Nokia Siemens Network, has now transformed Nokia into an network infrastructure focused business, Um said. Microsoft, meanwhile, has inherited a business "fraught with peril given competitive forces and its limited product acceptance."

I don't suppose it matters much that Microsoft is venturing into hardware given that other OS makers compete with hardware vendors. Right now, Nokia is selling 7.4m smart phones per quarter vs Apple at 31m. They sell 53.7m dumbphones too. After Nokia's 32,000 staff join Microsoft, they can make moves to stop selling dumbphones and migrate dumphone users to Windows smartphones. If they all migrate, that could give Microsoft over double Apple's quarterly unit share (Nokia is the 2nd largest phone manufacturer in the world, Samsung 1st when dumbphones are included). The Nokia average selling prices are low though: $157 for a smartphone and $26 for a dumbphone and currently they lose money on them. Not only that, Nokia's YoY smartphone sales actually fell significantly from 10.2m to 7.4m.

Microsoft's strategy is outlined here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/download/press/2013/StrategicRationale.pdf

They are using offshore cash for the acquisition so they say shareholders aren't impacted. Their current gross margin on Windows Phone OS royalties is <$10 per unit, with hardware, they plan to get that over $40 per unit. They note that operating income breaks even when they hit 50m smart devices.

They estimate that the smartphone market in 2018 will have 1.7 billion units and if they have a 15% share, they'll make ~$45b revenue per year and with 5% operating margins, that's $2.3b (per year in 2018 compared to Apple's 2012 net annual income of ~$40b).

They are acquiring over 8500 design patents, the Lumia and Ash brands and a 10-year license to make Nokia-branded feature phones. They are licensing all 30,000 utility patents on a better deal than previously. They note that all together, they will have the most cost-effective patent arrangement for smart devices. The idea here I guess being that they can get their costs lower than competing devices.

Maybe it will work out for them. You know what they say, companies that make crappy software should make their own crappy hardware too.
post #39 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

That is exactly Microsoft's strategy: stubbornly fight against an entrenched market leader until they fold. Their plan is to relentlessly execute on Ballmer's "devices and services" strategy until (they hope) their competition stumbles. What other hope do they have? Microsoft has the reserves to fight a losing war, whereas a Nokia, Palm, and BlackBerry don't. It was inevitable that MS would buy one of them, and obvious which one.

That's the difference. This time, they do not have the reserves to fight Apple.

 

But frankly, Apple is out of their reach since 98, they will never touch the premium segment again. What about the rest?

 

Microsoft also does not have the reserves to fight Google and Samsung. Even if they have the money, Google has the brain. Proof? Use a sub 800 windows computer. Use a sub 400 android device. Use Google's vs Microsoft's services.

 

Google already won that war.

post #40 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by daveinpublic View Post

I had a glimmer of hope for Microsoft's next CEO before this move by Ballmer, but now, not sure. It will take them years to find direction for the company. This move takes them one step back. Balmier is trying to recreate his last success, Xbox, in the cellphone world. But this market is different, ur not simply competing against Nintendo and Sony, ur competing against 100 models. This was the only obvious move he had left, but not a good one. I can't imagine any companies creating more windows phones anymore, or trying their best anyway. Microsoft is finally seen for what they always were, a company that copies to make quick cash. They were never anything more. Android beat them to the punch this time, so there's no place for them. I hope they learned more than just to copy quicker next time.


Consider this timeline:

20 months • January 2008 to September 2010, Elop worked for Microsoft as the head of the Business [Office] Division,

--- months • September 2010, it was announced that Elop would take Nokia's CEO position

  6 months • February 2011 -- leak of Elop "burning platform" memo to press
                    February 2011 -- Elop officially announced the new strategy for Nokia, which included the discontinuation
                    of both of their in-house mobile operating systems, shifting its smartphone strategy to Microsoft's Windows Phone.


It appears to me, that if Elop gets control of MS (with Gates backing) -- he will attempt to take drastic action in less than a year.

I have never met Bill Gates (and don't know if he is shrewd enough) -- but this could have been the plan all along:

1) Cut Nokia Phone down to size (lean and mean)

2) Groom Elop for potential MS CEO

3) Acquire Nokia/Elop
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