Nokia, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones, on Monday said it would acquire stakes in Symbian, a leading developer of operating systems for mobile devices, that it does not yet own. Separately, numerous communication industry players agreed to form Symbian Foundation, which will develop a unified platform for mobile communication devices and will rival attempts of Apple and Google to enter the market of cell phones.
The net cash outlay from Nokia to purchase the approximately 52% of Symbian Limited shares it does not already own will be approximately €264 million ($411 million). Nokia has received irrevocable undertakings from Sony Ericsson, Ericsson, Panasonic and Siemens to accept the offer, representing approximately 91% of the Symbian shares subject to the offer. Nokia also expects Samsung Electronics to accept the offer.
The acquisition is a fundamental step in the establishment of the Symbian Foundation, which is formed by Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT DOCOMO accompanied by AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone.
To enable the Foundation, Nokia will contribute the Symbian and S60 software to the Foundation, Sony Ericsson and Motorola plan to contribute technology from UIQ and DOCOMO has also indicated its willingness to contribute its MOAP(S) assets. From these contributions, the Foundation will provide a unified platform with common user interface framework that will be available for members of the Foundation at no charge. Membership of the foundation will be open to all organizations, for a low annual membership fee of $1500.
“The complete, consistent platform that the Foundation plans to provide will allow manufacturers to focus on their unique differentiation at a device level. Sony Ericsson believes that the unified Symbian Foundation platform will greatly simplify the world for handset manufacturers, operators and developers, enabling greater innovation in services and applications to the benefit of consumers everywhere,” said Dick Komiyama, president of Sony Ericsson.
The alliance between the leading makers of mobile phones as well as logic designers and operators represents a particular threat to companies like Apple, Google or Microsoft, which are promoting their mobile devices or platforms among hardware manufacturers or end-users. With openness of the Symbian Foundation there will be considerably more software and services for Symbian-based phones, which will automatically attract attention of end-usets.
Nokia expects the acquisition to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2008 and is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. On a reported basis, Nokia expects the transaction to be dilutive in 2009, approximately breakeven in 2010, and accretive in 2011. On a cash basis, Nokia expects the transaction to be dilutive in 2009 and accretive in 2010 and 2011. After the closing, all Symbian employees will become Nokia employees.