Microsoft today announced its acquisition of Nokia Devices & Services, Nokia mapping services and the rights to license Nokia’s patents in a deal totaling 5.4 billion euros (US$7.2 billion).

The deal is Microsoft’s first substantial move to shore up its future since CEO Steve Ballmer revealed his impending retirement.

“Now is the time to build on this momentum and accelerate our share and profits in phones,” Ballmer wrote in an e-mail to Microsoft employees. “Clearly, greater success with phones will strengthen the overall opportunity for us and our partners to deliver on our strategy to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.”

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop—the favorite to replace Ballmer—will return to Microsoft, leading an expanded devices team and reporting directly to Ballmer. Elop will be joined by 32,000 other Nokia employees transferring to Microsoft, including 4,700 workers from Finland and 18,300 employees directly involved in manufacturing, assembly and packaging of products worldwide.

“This is a smart acquisition for Microsoft, and a good deal for both companies,” wrote Ballmer. “We are receiving incredible talent, technology and IP. We’ve all seen the amazing work that Nokia and Microsoft have done together. Given our long partnership with Nokia and the many key Nokia leaders that are joining Microsoft, we expect a smooth transition and great execution.”