US approves Microsoft purchase of Nokia's mobile business

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States (US) antitrust regulators have approved Microsoft Corp's deal to buy Nokia Corp's mobile phone business, the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

The approval, which was expected, was dated Nov 29.

The next step will be for the companies to win approval in Europe for the proposed US$7.3 billion (S$9.2 billion) transaction.

Two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Nov 22 that the transaction was headed for unconditional approval in Brussels. The European Union competition watchdog has set a Dec 4 deadline for its decision.

Nokia had in September agreed to sell its devices and services business and license its patents to Microsoft after failing to recover from a late start in the smartphone sector.

The purchase underscores Microsoft's push into the competitive consumer devices market, where it faces fierce competition from market leader Samsung Electronics and Apple.

Nokia shareholders in mid-November gave a thumbs-up to the sale of what was once Finland's biggest brand, at one point worth 4 per cent of the national GDP.