Unilever, Nokia rocked by talk of acquisition | india | Hindustan Times
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Unilever, Nokia rocked by talk of acquisition

india Updated: Jun 02, 2011 21:47 IST
Reuters & PTI

Consumer goods giant Unilever and telecom handset giant Nokia have been rocked by rumours of acquisitions. While Proctor and Gamble is rumoured to be lining up a £38-billion for Unilever, Nokia denied rumours that US-based Microsoft Corp is said to have struck a deal to buy the mobile phone business of Finnish Nokia for $19 billion.

According to a Daily Mail report, P&G could be lining up a mega £30 a share break-up bid for one of its biggest rivals.

“As sceptics quickly said that anti-trust authorities would not take kindly to such a deal, they heard whispers that P&G has apparently already lined up buyers for parts of Unilever it does not want or would have to sell to placate competition authorities,” the report said.

Both P&G and Unilever have significant presence in the Indian FMCG market.

P&G’s last major corporate deal was the £1.4-billion sale of its Pringles Crisps business to Diamond Foods, while Unilever’s last big purchase was the £2.3-billion acquisition of Alberto Culver, the company behind the likes of VO5, Tresemme and Simple.

Meanwhile, Nokia shares fell 0.8% lower at €4.714, having dropped as much as 10.2% earlier in an extension of Tuesday’s 18% slump, after the company said that mobile phone sales in the second quarter would be substantially below a previous forecast and abandoned its full-year outlook, blaming difficult conditions in China and Europe. Volume in the stock reached six times the 90-day daily average.

Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson called the report of Microsoft buying the Finnish major’s core business as “100% baseless.” Dealers said Microsoft shares also fell on the report, which appeared on the website www.bgr.com, citing a person called Eldar Murtazin, whom it described as an industry insider.

Chief executive Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive, told US financial news channel CNBC that “those rumours are baseless, there are no conversations” with Microsoft.

Microsoft declined to comment on the report.

Microsoft and Nokia struck a deal earlier this year under which the Finnish company will move to using Microsoft software in its phones instead of its own Symbian software.

Analysts said their main concern was that Nokia, once the biggest player in mobile phones, may not be able to reclaim much market share even after it begins selling new phones based on Microsoft’s Windows software.

“We would continue to avoid the stock as smartphone sales are falling off faster than expected and we are sceptical that new Windows Phone models will be able to replace lost profits,” said Gleacher & Co analyst Stephen Patel.