Nokia One Step Closer to Controlling Symbian

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In February, Psion announced a plan to sell its portion of the Symbian software group to Nokia. However, this proved to be very controversial and there was some question of whether Psion’s shareholders would approve it. Yesterday, Psion announced that at a special meeting a majority of shareholders voted in favor of this transaction.

David Potter, Chairman of Psion, was very much in favor of the sale. He said in a statement, “Since Symbian was formed, Psion have invested cash of 29 million pounds, while the estimated proceeds of the sale are around 135 million pounds. This transaction will deliver very substantial value for shareholders.”

Still, there were many shareholders who were against this transaction. Phoenix Asset Management, which owns 13.5 percent of Psion, wanted the entire Symbian partnership to go through an IPO. Currently, all shares of Symbian Limited are owned by a group of smart phone makers, and Phoenix believed Psion could have gotten far more than 135 million pounds for its shares in an IPO. However, according to Mr. Potter, an IPO is impossible at this time because Nokia is opposed to the idea.

Many investors objected to Psion getting out of Symbian now, just when they think it is poised to become very profitable in the near future.

Nevertheless, those opposed to the sale were not able to garner enough support to block the transaction.

Not a Done Deal Yet

The purchase will bring Nokia’s ownership of the Symbian partnership to approximately 63 percent, giving it a controlling interest in the Symbian OS.

The other members of Symbian aren’t happy about Nokia’s effective takeover, and have said they are going to try and prevent Nokia from getting a majority stake. At least one of them has expressed an interest in buying some of Psion’s shares, rather than them all going to Nokia.

Even if it does come to own a majority of Symbian, Nokia says it won’t abuse its position. Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila has said, “Openness obviously will be underlined by everything Symbian does, whatever the shareholding base.”

What’s Next for Psion

David Potter, founder and chairman of Psion, said his company is getting out of the smart phone business and intends to use the money it gets from the Symbian sell-off to develop a series of handhelds and sub-notebooks running the Linux operating system.

In answer to those who have complained that Psion’s share price has dropped considerably since the Nokia deal was first announced, Mr. Potter said, “Once the market understands the operating businesses of Psion Teklogix, we believe that the value will come to be recognized and a proper value will be accorded to the Company.”

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