Nokia (NYSE:NOK) shareholders have approved a deal to allow Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to purchase the Finnish smartphone manufacturer’s “Devices and Services” unit. According to a Tuesday report from the Financial Times, 99.7 percent of participating votes agreed with the sale, representing roughly four-fifths of Nokia’s total shares.
The $7.3 billion deal will have former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop heading back to Redmond, Wash., to run an expanded team of products and services for Microsoft. Elop is a potential candidate to replace Microsoft’s outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, along with Ford (NYSE:F) CEO Alan Mulally.
Neither company has made any official announcement, since the meeting is in the early stages and will likely take several hours as Finnish investors vent their frustrations at Elop’s tenure as CEO and his departure bonus, as well as the notion of selling the historic Nokia brand to an American company.
Microsoft will take in 32,000 of Nokia’s employees. Elop, formerly head of Microsoft’s business division, has cut thousands of jobs since taking over as Nokia's CEO in September of 2010. Reports have surfaced that Elop is considering selling the Xbox videogame brand, killing off the Bing search engine and focusing on the Office software suite.
Microsoft is expected to complete the acquisition on the first quarter of 2014. Microsoft has made headlines this week for its upcoming release of the new Xbox One videogame console later this week, while Nokia is launching the Lumia 1520, the first Windows Phone large phones, or phablets.