Since announcing the Nokia devices business acquisition by Microsoft 7 months ago, the two companies have had a number of hurdles to jump over from various governments around the world. Microsoft seemed to think the hardest issue would be an Indian production plant that was behind on taxes. Unfortunately, after solving that issue, the deal was still not final.
This week, the last of around 16 regulatory approvals was received from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), similar to the US Federal Trade Commission. This hold-up delayed the estimated March 23 completion date until this month over anti-trust issues. David Howard, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Litigation and Antitrust, said of the delay,
There was an important principle with which MOFCOM approached these discussions from the beginning: Any commitments should be focused on how our future conduct might change after we own the Nokia Devices and Services business, and should not impact our licenses signed in the past or historical practices.
Clearly, MOFCOM is now satisfied that Microsoft will continue to support all agreements between both companies and the Chinese government. This would include, against some theories, retaining the newly announced Nokia X series, an Android Open Source Project-based handset whose custom interface is a hybrid between Microsoft's Windows Phone and Nokia's Asha. This new system is designed to be the transitional handset between Asha for emerging markets and Windows Phone for established markets, such as the Chinese wireless market.
With all of the regulatory approvals now completed, we can expect to see the Nokia brand officially join the Microsoft family in short order, with Stephen Elop, current Nokia head, taking over the Microsoft devices business, including Lumia, Surface and Xbox.