Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has issued a further denial that his company is an acquisition target.
“Nokia is not for sale,” Elop reportedly told an audience during the Open Mobile Summit in London, according to The Wall Street Journal. He dismissed rumors of an imminent takeover as “groundless.”
Nokia has been on acquisition watch since May, when rumors emerged of a possible $19 billion takeover by Microsoft. Those rumors started after Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin, known for his digging into Nokia’s affairs, tweeted May 31: “One small software company decided last week that they could spent 19 bln USD to buy a part of small phone vendor. That’s it.”
That wasn’t much, but it was enough to kick the rumor mill into gear. As Nokia’s stock price has tumbled and analysts issue increasingly pessimistic research notes about the company’s future, speculation over an acquisition has only increased. All that being said, though, Microsoft already has a partnership in place that extends most of the benefits of an acquisition-i.e., Windows Phone running on Nokia’s hardware-for a fraction of the cost.
Nokia is also wrestling with the transition from Symbian, its homegrown mobile operating system, to Windows Phone.
“We would continue to avoid the stock as Symbian smartphone sales are falling off faster than expected and we are skeptical that new Windows Phone (WP) models will be able to replace lost profits,” Stephen Patel, an analyst with Gleacher & Company, wrote in a May 31 research note. “Our checks suggest mixed carrier support for Nokia’s transition to WP.”
Nokia’s lock on the lower-cost handset market is also under assault by Google’s Android platform. “We think sub-$200 Android handsets, including those from new entrants such as ZTE and Huawei,” Patel added, “are hurting Symbian units, which largely target the same price range.”
He also voiced concerns about Windows Phone’s ability to replace Symbian’s market presence as the latter transitions to the dustbin of dead technology: “We remain concerned that WP industry sales remain below 2mil units/quarter and that [Nokia’s] scale will not be enough to offset a faster than expected drop-off in Symbian phone sales.”
Nor was he the only analyst to voice those concerns.
“While we maintain our belief the Nokia-Microsoft partnership is best positioned to potentially create a third viable smartphone ecosystem” Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley wrote in a June 1 research note, “we are increasingly concerned about sales for Nokia’s Symbian devices during the transition period.”
Meanwhile, Nokia CTO Richard Green has taken a leave of absence to deal with a personal matter, according to the Associated Press. Nokia is apparently offering no timeframe for his return.