• United States
Peter Sayer
Senior Editor

Motorola sells stake in Symbian consortium

Aug 29, 20032 mins
Network Security

Motorola is negotiating the sale of its 19% stake in Symbian to Nokia and Psion PLC, the companies announced Friday.

Smart phone operating system developer Symbian turned 5 years old on Thursday, ending agreements between founding shareholders Motorola, Nokia, Psion and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson not to sell their stakes, according to a Psion spokeswoman.

Although Motorola is selling its stake in Symbian, that does not mark the end of the two companies’ relationship, according to Motorola spokesman Patrick Hamilton. Motorola Thursday released its first smart phone based on the Symbian OS, and will continue to use Symbian’s software under license, he said.

The real focus of Motorola’s smart phone development effort is Java, Hamilton said. “The actual operating system being used is not that relevant. Our position on Java is not dependent on us using one operating system. We will continue to use a number of operating systems,” he said. Those operating systems will include Symbian OS, Linux and one of Motorola’s own devising, Hamilton said.

The sale will raise Psion’s stake in Symbian from 25.3% to 31.1%, while Nokia’s stake will increase from 19% to 32.2%, Psion said in a statement.

Motorola’s Hamilton confirmed those figures, but would not confirm the price Psion and Nokia will pay.

The agreed price values Symbian at £300 million ($473 million), according to Psion and Nokia. Psion will pay Motorola £17.4 million in cash for its share, it said in a statement.

The stakes held by Symbian’s other shareholders will likely remain unchanged, Hamilton said.

According to Psion, those stakes are 17.5% for Ericsson, 7.9% for Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), 5.0% for Samsung Electronics, 4.8% for Siemens AG and 1.5% for Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB.

The deal is subject to approval by regulators and the other shareholders, who have a right to preempt such sales. Nokia expects the deal to close in a matter of weeks, it said in a statement.

Last week, Symbian reported that 2.68 million handheld devices using its software were shipped in the first half of this year, up from just 230,000 a year earlier, while royalty revenue from software licensees increased from £1.5 million to £10.5 million over the same period.