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Microsoft to acquire Nokia's devices & services business for around $5 billion (Update: due early 2014)

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Whoa. Big news from the middle of the night. According to Nokia, Microsoft will purchase "substantially" all of Nokia's device and service arms as well as licensing the phone maker's patents and mapping know-how. The Redmond company will pay Nokia a cool 3.79 billion euros ($4.99 billion) for the business, and 1.65 billion euros ($2.18 billion) for its patent armory.

Microsoft hopes that allying with its biggest Windows Phone manufacturer will speed up growth (and improve its smartphone market share) -- the company is already promising "increased synergies." CEO Steve Ballmer added: "It's a bold step into the future - a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers of both companies. Bringing these great teams together will accelerate Microsoft's share and profits in phones, and strengthen the overall opportunities for both Microsoft and our partners across our entire family of devices and services."

According to the companies' press releases, 32,000 people will transfer across Microsoft, including 4,700 people in Finland and 18,300 employees directly involved in product manufacture. If you thought it was only the Windows Phone component of the phone business, you'd be wrong: Microsoft will also take into ownership Nokia's Asha range of feature phones. Patent-wise, Microsoft gets 10-year non-exclusive license to its Finnish partner's library of ideas and "reciprocal rights" to use Microsoft patents within its HERE mapping services. While Microsoft will be able to use the Nokia branding on its products, the Finnish company will now focus on its mapping, infrastructure and advanced tech arms.

Update: In Microsoft's presentation on the rationale of the acquisition, the two parties state that "we are confident about our prospects for approval by early 2014." Just a few more months to go!

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