Ericsson plays down talk of Symbian equity move

EW Daily News 25/03/2004 14:40:42 – Ericsson plays down talk of Symbian equity move
Ericsson plays down talk of Symbian equity move Richard Wilson
Ericsson has played down recent reports that it intends to increase its stake in Symbian to counter rival Nokia’s increased shareholding in the mobile operating system business.
A spokesman for Ericsson told Electronics Weekly that recent reports were “out of proportion” with the actual situation.
“It is our view that Nokia should not have an equity stake in Symbian above 50 per cent and it is up to the other shareholders to increase their stake to prevent this,” said the Ericsson spokesman.
All shareholders have rights to prevent one shareholder taking a majority stake under a process called their pre-emptive rights. But the spokesman insisted that Ericsson had not started discussions with other shareholders about increasing its stake.
Ericsson’s worry is that if Nokia took a majority shareholding in Symbian then the mobile operating system (OS) would seem to be unduly influenced by the mobile phone firm. The OS needs to be seen as vendor independent, according to Ericsson.
Ericsson’s handset joint venture with Sony is also a major user of the Symbian OS.
Nokia’s shareholding in Symbian will effectively increase to over 63 per cent following the completion in the summer of its acquisition of Psion’s 31 per cent shareholding in Symbian.
That sale, which is worth £135m to Psion, has yet to gain regulatory approval in Germany.
Ericsson’s Symbian stake is 17.5 per cent making it the largest shareholder after Nokia and Psion (before the sale).
Sony Ericsson, a 50/50 joint venture between Ericsson and Sony, also has a 1.5 per cent stake in Symbian.

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