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Microsoft’s Nokia deal given the final go-ahead, set to close later this month (Updated)

By sending out a statement the week before its Build 2014 conference, Microsoft pre-empted the inevitable questions it faced regarding the acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services business, which had been pushed to sometime in April. When the deal was first announced, the press release stated it expected to have everything completed by the end of March 2014, a deadline it would go on to miss.

The statement, published on Microsoft’s own blog, was written by Brad Smith, the company’s General Counsel and VP of Legal and Corporate Affairs. He said the regulatory process was nearing the final stages, and approval for the deal to go ahead had been given in 15 different markets around the world.

Why the hold up? Cryptically, Smith says it’s still waiting for approval in “the final markets,” but didn’t state which ones. However, Nokia shed some more light on the situation in its own statement. “The transaction is pending approvals from certain antitrust authorities in Asia, which are still conducting their reviews,” and added that despite this, both it and Microsoft were “confident the transaction will close.”

Updated on 04-08-2014 by Andy: Nokia has sent out a second statement, dated April 8, saying it had received regulatory approval from the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. The signature joins ones from the U.S. Department of Justice, the European Commission, and other key jurisdictions. It’s added the transaction is still on target to close during April.

According to Bloomberg, quoting sources in the Chinese government, Huawei and Samsung both “expressed concern to China” about the deal, saying they feared the partnership would result in patent licensing fees being raised. The report said that despite this, officials told the publication it was “likely to approve the deal.” Interestingly, Nokia’s closing paragraph in its April 8 statement says the regulatory process included a “thorough review of it patent licensing practices,” and that it hadn’t been challenged, or been asked to make any changes.

Microsoft opened the doors to its Build developer conference on April 2, which if the initial target had been met, would have allowed it to talk about its new Windows Phone plans as the proud owner of Nokia’s Devices division. Nokia and former CEO Stephen Elop presented new devices on stage during the opening keynote, but there was a notable lack of discussion regarding the future for the almost-wed couple.

Article originally published on 03-24-2014

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