U.S. antitrust regulators okay Microsoft-Nokia deal

EU approval is expected Wednesday

U.S. regulators have given the green light to Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business, moving the deal a major step closer to wrapping up.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the transaction on Friday, Nov. 29, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published the notice today on its website.

"We look forward to the date when our partners at Nokia will become members of the Microsoft family, and are pleased that the Department of Justice has cleared the deal unconditionally," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Microsoft announced the acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services business Sept. 3, when it said it would pay the Finnish firm a total of $7.2 billion, a figure that included $2.2 billion to license Nokia's patents.

At the time, analysts contended that the purchase was a defensive move to keep the phone maker from going under or falling into the hands of an Android-first rival.

Nokia sells the bulk of the world's smartphones powered by Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.

Nokia's shareholders approved the deal two weeks ago at an emotional meeting in Helsinki, where shareholders grilled company executives for several hours before voting.

Regulators in India, Israel, Russia and Turkey have also okayed the acquisition.

Still outstanding is approval by European Union (EU) antitrust authorities, who are to announce their decision Wednesday. Ten days ago, Reuters, quoting anonymous sources, said that the EU would clear the deal.

Previously, Microsoft has said it expected to finalize the Nokia acquisition in early 2014.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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