The Microsoft Corporation-Nokia Deal Is a Winner, Tweaks and All

It's looking more likely that tax problems in India will force the two tech giants to rework their $7.2 billion deal.

Apr 23, 2014 at 8:30PM

Just ahead of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) fiscal 2014 third-quarter earnings report, General Counsel Brad Smith shared some news this week: After months of negotiations with regulatory agencies around the world, what was supposed to be a $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) devices and services unit is finally set to close this Friday, April 25.

As Smith noted in his post, the acquisition didn't quite play out as originally intended. Some tweaks had to be hammered out between the two longtime partners, and one outstanding issue - Nokia's India operations - was glaring omitted altogether. Still, the gist of the deal remains intact, and it marks a new beginning for both Microsoft and Nokia. Now that all the "T's" have been crossed and "I's" dotted, where do the two sides go from here?

A few specs
Smith suggested changes to the deal were to be expected, saying "As with any multinational agreement of this size, scale and complexity, our two companies have made adjustments to the original deal throughout the close preparation process."

For the next year, give or take, Microsoft will manage Nokia's online domain and social media sites to help ease customers into the new arrangement. The initial agreement "did not address the management of online assets," Smith noted.

Also, as many as 32,000 of Nokia's 90,000 global personnel were expected to become Microsoft employees. Smith didn't share too many specifics, other than to say that rather than the entirety of Nokia's chief technology office remaining with the company as first envisioned, 21 mobile-phone personnel in China will transition to Microsoft. More details are expected in the next few days.

The biggest change to the original deal, in terms of what Smith shared at least, was news that Nokia's Korean manufacturing facility is no longer part of the acquisition. The Korean facility is one of Nokia's newest operations, opening the doors to what it called "a new state of the art facility," just a couple of years ago..

Noticeably absent
As mentioned in a recent article, Nokia and the India Tax Authority have, to put it mildly, agreed to disagree on outstanding tax issues. Nokia objects to setting aside as much as $500 million in an escrow account based on future taxes, and both sides refuse to budge. The long-running animosity hasn't been resolved, but Smith's blog post did not state whether the Chennai manufacturing facility is included in the deal. Though operations in Chennai have been scaled back as Nokia's smartphone market share woes grew, it remains a significant operation and a major employer in India.

Chennai is almost certainly not included in the soon-to-be-consummated acquisition. Nokia's, and by extension Microsoft's, plans for the approximately 8,000 employees working at the plant were made abundantly clear when it was announced recently each worker received a voluntary retirement scheme, or VRS, notice. A VRS is India's version of an early retirement option here in the U.S., and is designed to trim the workforce without simply terminating large numbers of workers.

Nokia executives have told representatives from India's Tax Authority in the past that they will shut the facility down if the issues aren't resolved. After making it clear over the past several months it had no intention of paying into the escrow account against future tax liabilities, coupled with Chennai employees receiving the VRS, it's pretty clear Nokia intends to shut down its India operations.

Final Foolish thoughts
So how much is the new deal worth? No word on that yet, but forgoing the manufacturing operations in South Korea, and likely doing the same in India, will have an impact. Based on little to no stock price movements of Microsoft and Nokia in the last couple days, investors appear to be relieved more than excited. Taking over half a year to close the deal would wear on most anyone.

Where do Nokia and Microsoft go from here? Since the deal was first announced last September, it was evident that this was a win-win situation for both sides. Nokia can get on with growing its solutions and networks division without the albatross of its money-losing mobile phone unit around its neck. For Microsoft, a late transition to the 21st century will be realized in the next couple of days. It's about time.

Your cable company is scared, but you can get rich
You know cable's going away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple.

Tim Brugger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information