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Motorola sells stake in Symbian consortium

Motorola is negotiating the sale of its 19% stake in Symbian to Nokia and Psion.

Smart phone OS (operating system) developer Symbian has ended agreements between founding shareholders Motorola, Nokia, Psion and Ericsson not to sell their stakes.

Although Motorola is selling its stake in Symbian, that does not mark the end of the relationship between the two companies, said Motorola spokesman Patrick Hamilton. Motorola released its first smart phone based on the Symbian OS last week, and will continue to use Symbian's software under licence.

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 OS. We will continue to use a number of operating systems," he added. Those operating systems will include Symbian OS, Linux and one of Motorola's own devising.

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%.

The agreed price values Symbian at £300m, according to Psion and Nokia. Psion said it would pay Motorola £17.4min cash for its share.

The stakes held by Symbian's other shareholders are likely to remain unchanged, Hamilton said.

The deal is subject to approval by regulators and the other shareholders, who have a right to pre-empt such sales. Nokia expected the deal to close in a matter of weeks.

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 £1.5m to £10.5m over the same period.

Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service

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