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Microsoft thought about Nokia buy, promptly backed out -- report

The Register has spoken with sources who claim Microsoft examined Nokia's books before deciding to not acquire the mobile firm.


Microsoft considered acquiring Nokia before seeing its books and running away, according to a new report.

The Register is reporting today, citing "well-placed sources," that Nokia gave Microsoft access to its books late last year to allow the software giant to determine if any part of its operation was worth buying. Soon after, Microsoft moved on, apparently unimpressed by what it found.

It's not hard to see why: Nokia's sales are plummeting rapidly as mobile users increasingly turn to iOS and Android. Still, it's clear why Microsoft might have considered acquiring all or part of Nokia. The software company needs to make a splash in the mobile market, and Nokia still ships hundreds of millions of devices each year, effectively putting Microsoft in a position to capture a large chunk of the market. Plus, Nokia is cheap.

In the last five years, Nokia has seen its shares plummet 90 percent to $2.91. As of this writing, the company's market capitalization stands at just $10.45 billion. With the kind of cash Microsoft generates each quarter, it could acquire Nokia without even feeling it. And buying just a chunk of Nokia would have been even cheaper.

But even with all of its cash, Microsoft can't afford to make bad purchases. That's perhaps why the company last year decided to only partner with Nokia, making Windows Phone the principal operating system in the vendor's products, rather than acquire it outright.

Although Microsoft and Nokia couldn't come to their own acquisition deal, rumors surfaced in December, claiming the firms were considering teaming up to make a joint bid for Research In Motion. After investigating RIM further, however, they reportedly decided against it.

CNET has contacted Microsoft for comment on the Register's report. We will update this story when we have more information.