Despite an ambitious last-ditch effort by Finnish businessmen to stop Microsoft from acquiring Nokia’s Devices and Services business, Nokia shareholders overwhelmingly approved the US$7.2 billion sale today as planned.
The Financial Times reported the meeting was merely a formality, since 99.7% of investors who held four-fifths of voting shares had already approved the transaction. The minority who opposed the sale—upset over the loss of the iconic national company—formed a group called Nokita (meaning “bet higher” in Finnish), which tried and failed to raise $10.8 billion in the past three weeks to outbid Microsoft.
“Of course there was a bit of a patriotic idea behind my plan, but there was also the calculation,” Finnish businessman and former Nokia manager Juhani Parda, the main organizer and face of the Nokita campaign, told Reuters. “I think €5.44 billion is definitely good for Microsoft. I’m not sure it’s the best deal for shareholders.”
While the ideals behind Nokita were respectable, the hastily planned campaign had too many problems from the get-go to ever pose a serious threat.
First off, giving itself less than a month to drum up such a staggering investment was nonsensical. Yet what made it worse is that the “plan,” which sounds appealing on its face, was backed up by nothing but a hollow video and memorandum filled with lofty promises and flimsy details.
Saying Nokia’s phone business could be worth more than $31 billion in three years by expanding the devices to Android and Linux operating systems is fine, but providing no credible facts to back up the statistics discredits the claim. Dubbing Nokia a Finnish institution that should stay within the country is an admirable sentiment, but shamelessly pandering for support by calling a business venture “one of the greatest and most rewarding adventures of humankind, ever” shot whatever credibility the campaign may have had right in the foot.
If the Nokita campaign were run in a more competent and forthright manner, and given more than three weeks to gain steam, who knows whether it could have truly challenged Microsoft’s sale. As it stands, Nokita is nothing more than a tagline.