Microsoft to purchase Nokia Devices and Services business (breaking)

Well, that was fast (unless you’ve been expecting it all along, that is). In the past week, Microsoft as announced the retirement of its longtime CEO, accepted activist investors onto its Board of Directors, and just now announced that it will be acquiring Nokia’s Devices and Services business, for some 5.44 Billion Euros (or about 7.17B USD, if my quick math is correct, not quite what they paid for Skype). From the Microsoft press release:

Microsoft Corporation and Nokia Corporation today announced that the Boards of Directors for both companies have decided to enter into a transaction whereby Microsoft will purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, license Nokia’s patents, and license and use Nokia’s mapping services.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will pay EUR 3.79 billion to purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, and EUR 1.65 billion to license Nokia’s patents, for a total transaction price of EUR 5.44 billion in cash. Microsoft will draw upon its overseas cash resources to fund the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, subject to approval by Nokia’s shareholders, regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

In a letter to Microsoft employees, CEO Steve Ballmer describes the upcoming reorganization of the newly reorganized company:

1. Stephen Elop will be coming back to Microsoft, and he will lead an expanded Devices team, which includes all of our current Devices and Studios work and most of the teams coming over from Nokia, reporting to me.

2. Julie Larson-Green will continue to run the Devices and Studios team, and will be focused on the big launches this fall including Xbox One and our Surface enhancements. Julie will be joining Stephen’s team once the acquisition closes, and will work with him to shape the new organization.

3. As part of the acquisition, a number of key engineering leaders will be joining Microsoft from Nokia, reporting to Stephen in his new capacity:

· Jo Harlow, who will continue to lead the Smart Devices team

· Timo Toikkanen, who will continue to lead the Mobile Phones team

· Stefan Pannenbecker, who will lead Design

· Juha Putkiranta, who will lead the integration effort on Nokia’s behalf

In a Labor Day weekend already filled with Microsoft news, this is obviously a blockbuster, and does much to explain Microsoft’s recent moves.  Obviously, Stephen Elop just vaulted ahead in the short list of potential candidates to replace Ballmer as CEO (sorry Ben!).

We’ll have lots more as it progresses, but Microsoft, in a number of swift fell swoops, has suddenly made things interesting again.

Stay tuned!