Telecom equipment maker Nokia (NYSE:NOK) announced today that it would move part of its corporate brain trust from Finland to the New York area. By mid-2004, the company expects to transfer CFO Rick Simonson and Enterprise Solutions group head Mary McDowell to the U.S., followed over two years with 100-150 others.

Because the U.S. is Nokia's biggest market and 6,600 of its 52,000 employees work under the Stars and Stripes, the move may simply reflect the country's strategic importance. On the other hand, Finland exacts high taxes and is rumored to be cold and dark in the winter -- despite those cute commercials of school kids using their Nokia phones to time daylight sprints to pelt trams with snowballs. As Nokia turns more to international executives -- both Simonson and McDowell, newly hired from Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), are U.S. citizens -- metro Helsinki may not be the most attractive recruiting draw.

Plus, CEO Jorma Ollila emphasized in a prepared statement that New York offers "closer links with investors and the financial community." We'll agree on that, at least when compared with Nokia's current locations in Texas and Silicon Valley.

Nokia announced in September that it will reorganize its operations into four units effective Jan. 1, and said it would also base its sales and marketing for its new Multimedia group in the U.S.

Finland this year was voted No. 1 most competitive world economy, knocking the U.S. down to the second spot. The move is plain, old business common sense.

Shares dropped as much as 3% toward $17 on the news, still at the high end of their $12.33-$18.75 52-week range.

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