Nokia's venture fund invests in first Chinese firm

BEIJING Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:07am EDT

BEIJING Oct 21 (Reuters) - Nokia's (NOK1V.HE) (NOK.N) $250 million venture capital arm invested in China's mobile advertiser Madhouse, marking its first deal in the mainland, executives said on Tuesday. Nokia Growth Partners was established in 2004 by its parent and is still wholly owned by Nokia, targetting mobile technology, services and media.

Nokia did not disclose details of its investment in Madhouse, but China and India are two of its main focuses along with the United States and Europe.

"It costs one-fifth the amount to develop a company here," Paul Asel, the managing partner for Nokia's fund in China, told reporters. "It allows for more efficient innovation," he said.

Shanghai-based Madhouse has been growing rapidly, benefitting from the world's largest wireless market in terms of users.

China is also Nokia's largest market, and while much of its growth in the mainland is focused on lower-end handsets, Nokia says the potential for further growth is still large.

"There is still a lot of penetration to go in the China market before it is saturated," said Nokia's Chief Financial Officer, Rick Simonson.

Nokia's third-quarter profits fell from a year ago, hit by weaker cellphone demand in Europe, but the world's top handset maker said booming demand from emerging markets such as China and India has outweighed weakness in developed markets.

($=6.83 yuan) (Reporting by Kirby Chien; Editing by Ken Wills)

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