Nokia shares down over queries over CEO's Microsoft share-holdings
Feb 14, 2011, 12:21 GMT
Helsinki - Nokia shares traded 3 per cent lower in Helsinki Monday in the wake of controversy over the chief executive's ownership of shares in Microsoft, the US software giant which announced a link-up with Nokia last week.
Nokia announced the alliance with Microsoft potentially creating a major new player in the fast-evolving smartphone market to counter Apple and Google.
However, Stephen Elop, CEO of the Finnish firm and a former Microsoft employee, still owns around 174,000 shares, Kauppalehti newspaper in Finland revealed Saturday. He originally owned 200,000 but sold about one eighth of them.
Elop confirmed on Sunday there had been a bidding war between Microsoft and Google for the tie-up with Nokia - creating the impression of a potential conflict of interest if he stood to benefit from doing a deal with Microsoft.
Nokia is defending Elop, saying he could not have sold the block outright without infringing insider-trading rules, since he had been in talks with Nokia about a new job, then in talks on Nokia's behalf adopting the Microsoft software.
Nokia said Elop, a Canadian, had an option in place to buy 500,000 Nokia shares.
At the Mobile World Congress currently taking place in Barcelona, Elop confirmed he still owned the Microsoft stock, saying he had only been able to start selling the shares after leaving the US company.
Last week, Nokia announced it would cease development of its own Symbian operating system and begin installing Windows Phone 7 on its high-end mobile phones.
However, it may take years for Symbian to completely be phased out, as it will continue to be loaded on cheaper Nokia phones.
Elop faces controversy in Finland because of job cuts he is proposing. Analysts say the conglomerate faces a battle to survive because it has lagged in the technological race.
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