Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) announced Tuesday that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) would purchase a significant portion of the former’s mobile-phone business for $7.2 billion. Nokia also announced that Stephen Elop has stepped down as chief executive and will rejoin Microsoft, fueling speculation that Elop will become the new CEO of Microsoft.
Ballmer surprised the tech world last week when he announced that he would retire after serving as Microsoft CEO for 13 years. Microsoft gave no indication of who would take over his role, but Elop was considered to be one of the leading candidates.
Elop left Microsoft in 2010 as head of Microsoft Office to join Nokia and has been instrumental in uniting Nokia smartphones with Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile OS and the Bing search engine with Nokia Maps. During his time at Nokia, the sales of the company’s Lumia smartphone have grown.
There had been rumors that Microsoft was looking to acquire Nokia, and that Elop would be a part of that deal. Elop also has less Microsoft experience than other people considered for the position, which could give Microsoft a much-needed infusion of fresh blood.
Others feel that this deal and his lack of experience make him less likely to be chosen as Microsoft’s next CEO. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ballmer said that the deal doesn’t say much for Elop’s future at Microsoft.
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Either way, the market has responded favorably. Nokia shares traded up 48 percent after the announcement, with many saying that this is the best solution for both companies' future mobile plans.