* China approves $7.4 bln deal between Nokia and Microsoft
* No requested changes to Nokia's main patent practices
* Nokia shares rise 3.1 pct
(Adds comments from Microsoft and analyst, background)
By Sakari Suoninen
HELSINKI, April 8 Nokia has won
approval from Chinese competition authorities to sell its mobile
phone business to Microsoft Corp without having to
change its main technology patent practices, it said on Tuesday.
The Finnish company agreed in September to sell its flagship
business to Microsoft in a 5.4 billion euro ($7.4 billion) deal.
However, it kept its patent portfolio, viewed by analysts as a
promising source of future growth.
Nokia's announcement on Tuesday sent its shares up 3.1
percent to 5.49 euros as investors had feared Chinese regulators
could demand tough future conditions for Nokia's patents
Nokia said it still expected the Microsoft deal to close
this month but would not comment on which approvals were still
needed before that.
The deal has received the green light from other regulators
including in the United States and European Union. Such
approvals are needed due to the size of the transaction and the
companies' presence in the different markets.
Nokia said it had pledged to honour fair, reasonable and
non-discriminatory (FRAND) patent licensing principles, but
added that it had not been accused of unfair practices.
"No authority has challenged Nokia's compliance with its ...
undertakings related to standard-essential patents or requested
that Nokia make changes to its licensing programme or royalty
terms," it said in a statement on Tuesday.
Nokia, which once dominated the global mobile phone
business, holds a portfolio of about 30,000 technology patents -
some essential for mobile communications - which analysts have
said could be worth between 3 billion and 10 billion euros.
"The Chinese approval had been a question mark," Inderes
analyst Mikael Rautanen said. "There were some worries that
Asian authorities would tack on additional conditions to Nokia
patents, which would have weakened Nokia's profit
Google and Samsung had asked Chinese
regulators to ensure that the deal with Microsoft would not lead
to higher licensing fees, according to media reports.
Nokia and Microsoft both dismissed suggestions that they
could seek to abuse their position as a holder of many patents
essential to mobile phone standards.
"As we ... plan to continue to honour our FRAND undertakings
in the future, we are prepared to voluntarily reaffirm Nokia's
continuing commitment to FRAND licensing principles," Nokia
said, adding that it had given the statement to the Chinese
Microsoft said it had pledged not change its main patent
licensing practices for eight years.
"It has never been our intent to change our practices after
we acquire the Nokia business," David Howard, Microsoft vice
president for litigation and antitrust, wrote on the U.S.
($1 = 0.7277 euros)
(Reporting by Sakari Suoninen; Editing by Pravin Char)