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Sep. 10, 2014, 7:47 AM
- The $2B price tag that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is reportedly willing to swallow for Minecraft maker Mojang is on par with other large video games deals, although not all have panned out.
- Analyst take: Cowen calls Minecraft one of the great gaming success stories of the last ten years, while some tech analysts warn the franchise has lost some momentum and could be hard to recharge.
- Sources have indicated that Microsoft will use overseas cash to pay for the acquisition to lighten its tax obligation.
- MSFT +0.5% premarket
Sep. 9, 2014, 6:26 PM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is in "serious discussions" to buy Mojang AB -- the maker of popular world-building game Minecraft -- in a deal valued at more than $2B, a source tells The Wall Street Journal.
- A deal could come as early as this week, and would be the first truly major acquisition for CEO Satya Nadella since he took the job in February.
- Mojang has sold more than 50M copies of the game since its 2009 release but has shunned big corporations -- and, particularly, Microsoft specifically.
- MSFT +0.2% after hours.
Jul. 11, 2014, 6:28 PM
- "We viewed [Satya Nadella's] letter yesterday to employees as putting everyone on notice that he wants to make organizational changes," writes Nomura's Rick Sherlund after taking in Nadella's missive.
- Sherlund thinks Microsoft (MSFT +1%) might shed 5%-10% of the ~125K employees working for either Microsoft proper or Nokia's phone unit. He estimates cutting a quarter of the 25K-strong Nokia workforce would "eliminate about $1.0b of cost structure."
- Meanwhile, others have honed in on Nadella's productivity emphasis, and his attempts to distance himself from Steve Ballmer's "devices & services" mantra. Harry McCracken: "The new vision ... feels less like it’s reacting to the changes to the industry which Apple has wrought by imitating them: Apple is never, ever going to have a mission statement which leads with the word 'productivity.'"
- CITEworld, for its part, likes Nadella's remarks about making heavy use of data to drive product decision-making.
- In an interview with The Verge, Nadella rejects traditional distinctions between enterprise and consumer markets. "Any thinking consumer should consider Microsoft because guess what, you're not just a consumer. You're also going to go to work, you're also going to be productive and we can do a better job for you in there"
- Microsoft has acquired InMage, a provider of disaster recovery/failover hardware and software for businesses and service providers. The company plans to integrate InMage's technology, which captures data changes in real-time, with Azure's recently-launched Site Recovery service.
Apr. 21, 2014, 10:40 AM
- Microsoft's (MSFT -0.5%) acquisition of Nokia's (NOK -0.1%) Devices & Services unit will close on April 25.
- Three changes have been made to the original deal: 1) Microsoft won't acquire Nokia's Korean manufacturing facility. 2) Microsoft will "manage" Nokia.com and Nokia social media sites for up to a year. 3) 21 Chinese employees of Nokia's Chief Technology Office will join Microsoft.
- Chinese government approval (provided two weeks ago) ended the last major regulatory hurdle for the deal, which was originally set to close in March. Nokia stands to reap a $7.5B cash windfall that it might direct towards a mixture of acquisitions - the company has said it's focusing on smaller deals - and capital returns.
- Microsoft, meanwhile, will have to get to work on turning around a business that posted a 29% Y/Y sales drop and a -7.3% non-IFRS op. margin in Q4, in large part due to plunging feature phone sales.
Feb. 25, 2014, 12:31 PM
- Orange (ORAN +0.1%) has confirmed it's talking to Microsoft (MSFT -0.3%) about a partnership revolving around video site/would-be YouTube rival Dailymotion. The French carrier, which has been looking for international partners to grow Dailymotion's reach, says it will hold onto its majority stake in the site in the event of a deal.
- Last year, the French government blocked Orange from selling Dailymotion to Yahoo. Though Microsoft's Bing contains a video site, it doesn't currently support uploads.
- Earlier: Microsoft reassigns Larson-Green to make room for Elop
Feb. 12, 2014, 10:55 AM
- By imposing conditions Nokia (NOK -2.6%) deems to be "unacceptable," an Indian court has halted the transfer of Nokia's massive Chennai phone manufacturing plant (employs 30K people) to Microsoft (MSFT +0.9%), and in doing so has further stalled the sale of the former's phone unit to the latter.
- The halt is tied to Nokia's ongoing $1.1B tax dispute with the Indian government. Nokia has responded by appealing to India's Supreme Court. In the meantime, chairman Risto Siilasmaa is meeting with government figures in an attempt to find a resolution.
- Nokia, whose shares are selling off today, once more suggests (previous) its Indian manufacturing ops could be moved elsewhere on account of the dispute. "It seems that working with the tax authorities here in India can be very hard and unpredictable, which is clearly not good for businesses."
- Previous: Indian court lifts freeze on Nokia factory
- Update: Nokia says it doesn't expect the tax dispute to stop the Microsoft deal from closing in Q1.
Jan. 6, 2014, 6:03 PM
- Sources tell the WSJ Microsoft (MSFT) has acquired Parature, developer of a cloud-based customer support software platform. No word on deal terms. (PR)
- Parature's platform includes tools for interacting with customers via live chat, e-mail, social media, a self-service knowledgebase, and mobile apps, and complements Microsoft's SMB-focused Dynamics CRM software. Microsoft already has a partnership with Parature related to Dynamics.
- Dynamics CRM has seen healthy growth in recent years, but also faces intensifying competition from Salesforce (CRM), SugarCRM, and other cloud software firms.
- Salesforce has seen healthy uptake for its Service Cloud customer support platform. Oracle bought RightNow, another industry player, for $1.5B in 2011.
Dec. 12, 2013, 7:00 AM
- An Indian court has agreed to unfreeze a phone-making factory owned by Nokia (NOK) so that it can complete the sale of its handset unit to Microsoft (MSFT).
- Authorities seized the plant following a tax dispute. Nokia will deposit 22.50B rupees ($367.17M) in an escrow account as a condition for lifting the freeze and transferring the factory to Microsoft.
- The tax case will continue separately. If Nokia loses, it could face a bill of up to $3.4B.
Nov. 19, 2013, 8:45 AM
- An era officially ends: Nokia (NOK) shareholders have signed off on the sale of its Devices & Services unit to Microsoft (MSFT). 99.7% of shareholder votes were cast in favor - not surprising, considering the effect news of the deal had on Nokia's shares.
- While Dan Loeb wants Nokia to return much of $7.36B it's set to receive from the unit sale and a related IP licensing deal to shareholders, many expect Nokia to use a chunk of the cash to go acquisition-hunting.
- Microsoft, meanwhile, now has to focus its attention on growing Windows Phone's smartphone share from a Q3 level of 3.6% (per IDC), and profiting from a business that still has plenty of exposure to a rapidly declining feature phone market. Nomura recently forecast feature phone weakness would lead the Nokia unit to dilute Microsoft's EPS into FY15.
- The Microsoft-Nokia deal: I, II, III
Oct. 23, 2013, 2:50 PM
- Microsoft (MSFT -1.7%) has acquired Apiphany, provider of a platform that helps Web/cloud developers develop and manage the APIs they offer for third-party apps/services. Terms are undisclosed.
- Apiphany's offerings will be rebranded and offered to developers using Windows Azure's cloud app development (PaaS) platform. Microsoft observes "cloud computing has rapidly accelerated the use cases for extensibility," which in turn has "increased the value of the APIs."
- Interest in API management services has been picking up lately, thanks in no small part to growing cloud app development. In April, Intel and CA respectively bought API management firms Mashery and Layer 7.
Sep. 4, 2013, 4:10 PM
- Sources tell the WSJ BlackBerry (BBRY +5.9%) is " aiming to run a fast auction process that could be wrapped up by November." The report led shares to spike just before the close.
- Meanwhile, sources tell Bloomberg Microsoft (MSFT -2.2%) is "keeping an eye" on BlackBerry in the wake of the Nokia deal. Given Microsoft's commitment to Windows Phone, any interest in BlackBerry from the software giant could be related to the company's BES/network operations center assets rather than its hardware ops.
- The reports come as analysts continue to cut estimates. BlueFin Research says its checks indicate there have been major BB10 production cuts, and that BlackBerry has "amassed significant component and finished goods internal inventories, while many carriers and retailers are not restocking."
Sep. 3, 2013, 1:08 PM
- A Steve Ballmer e-mail and a company presentation go over Microsoft's (MSFT -6%) plans for Nokia's (NOK +31.3%) phone unit.
- Stephen Elop, now more than ever viewed as a possible Ballmer replacement, will head an "expanded Devices team" that will include "all of [Microsoft's] current Devices and Studios work and most of the teams coming over from Nokia.
- Julie Larson-Green, who was recently put in charge of Devices & Studios' engineering and content work, will join Elop's team once the deal closes.
- Key Nokia engineering/design execs will report to Elop. But Nokia's sales team, led by Chris Weber, will ultimately report to COO Kevin Turner. Also, "all global marketing" will be run by Microsoft's Tami Reller and Mark Penn. There are "no major plans" to move Nokia teams to different geographies.
- Microsoft predicts the purchase will hurt FY14 EPS by $0.08, be neutral to FY15 EPS, and accretive to FY16 EPS by $0.08. Much, of course, depends on how future hardware launches are received.
- Microsoft is acquiring 8.5K Nokia design patents. Nokia's 30K utility patents/applications are being licensed. Elop insists Microsoft isn't abandoning Nokia's declining feature phone ops, calling them "an on-ramp to Windows Phone."
- Like others on the Street, Deutsche is unconvinced about the deal's merits. "We do not see this deal offering anything incremental to MSFT that it did not have as part of its partnership with NOK."
- Ben Thompson: "Today no one cares about Nokia’s industrial design, distribution, or supply chain, because their devices lack an app ecosystem, the price of entry into smartphones ... I theorize that Nokia was either going to switch to Android or was on the verge of going bankrupt."
- GigaOm's Kevin C. Tofel: "Let’s get real: Nobody will license Windows Phone or Windows RT now."
- Horace Dediu isn't quite as critical, arguing Nokia's mobile hardware "processes" and "priorities" could make the deal worthwhile even if its "resources" don't.
- More on Microsoft/Nokia
Sep. 3, 2013, 8:11 AM
- Microsoft (MSFT) tumbles 4.5% premarket after agreeing to buy Nokia's handset business for $7.2B. The sell side isn't terribly enthusiastic.
- "Nokia deal not likely well-received by shareholders," says Rick Sherlund who just upgraded MSFT 10 days ago. "New management is unlikely to simply break up the company."
- We see this acquisition as incrementally negative," says Bernstein. Doubling down on mobile phones highlights lack of attention on the enterprise side.
- A "hail mary pass," says Oppenheimer's Shaul Eyal. The transaction is a "call option on mobile," he says, where Microsoft stands to maybe see a positive result without risking too much money. The catalysts of a dividend hike, a potential new CEO, and shareholder activism could outweigh any negativity from this deal, he hopes, maintaining his Buy rating and $37 price target.
- NOK +45% premarket.
Sep. 3, 2013, 4:47 AM
- Nokia (NOK) shares jump 37% in Helsinki following news that it's selling its mobile phone unit to Microsoft (MSFT) as part of a deal worth $7.17B.
- SA author Charles Fox reckons a major motive behind the transaction is that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is now a dead certainty to replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft boss.
- Shorn of a big loss maker and sitting on a nice cash mountain, the future seems bright for Nokia, although its potential could now be limited.
- Some might think that Microsoft is overpaying for a business "many investors and analysts wrote off as dead," but Fox thinks $5B "seems like chump change for a...division that once ruled the phone market" and could come back.
- Jacob Steinberg echoes these sentiments. "Nokia's phone business deserves a much better price than $5B considering how it generated $20.38B in revenues last year," says Steinberg.
Sep. 3, 2013, 12:51 AM
- Nokia (NOK) had a market cap of $14.5B as of Friday's close. Thus, unless investors think Nokia's assets outside of Devices & Services (they include $3B+ in net cash and an IP portfolio that's now more valuable) are worth $7.3B or less, shares will trade higher on Tuesday.
- Investors are likely to now look much more favorably on Nokia's financial health, both due to the Microsoft (MSFT) cash infusion and the fact the company is shedding a business it has been struggling to turn a profit on (and which also has significant liabilities). Look for some of the ratings agencies who have downgraded Nokia in recent years to issue upgrades going forward.
- Microsoft is both making good on its promise to evolve into a "devices & services" company, and taking an enormous gamble on increasing its consumer exposure at a time when enterprise-related sales have come to account for the lion's share of its op. profit.
- Nokia's Devices & Services unit posted a €703M op. loss (non-IFRS) in 2012, and a €32M op. loss in Q2. And while its Lumia sales rose to $1.16B in Q2 on the back of 7.4M units, feature phone sales fell 39% Y/Y to $1.41B thanks to soaring demand for cheap Android phones. Will Microsoft attempt to unload Nokia's feature phone ops, and if so, what kind of deal will it get?
- Also of concern: 1) Windows Phone, though faring well in some markets, only had a 3.7% smartphone unit share in Q2 (per IDC), and a large portion of its growth appears to be coming from feature phone converts. 2) WP licensees such as Samsung, LG, and Huawei, whose support for the OS has been limited relative to their support for Android, may not be thrilled that their WP models will be directly competing against Microsoft. As it is, the Lumia line accounts for an overwhelming share of the WP8 installed base.
- It's the end of an era: Nokia towered over the mobile phone industry for years, and had a 37% unit share in Q2 2007 (just before the iPhone's arrival).
- In what might amount to a goodwill gesture, Microsoft says it will invest $250M+ to build a Finnish data center that will serve European Microsoft consumers.
- Nokia CC at 4AM ET. Microsoft CC at 8:45AM ET.
- Previous: Microsoft buying Nokia's Devices & Services unit
Sep. 2, 2013, 11:51 PM
- Microsoft (MSFT) is paying €3.79B for Nokia's (NOK) Devices & Services ops, and €1.65B to obtain a 10-year non-exclusive license to Nokia's patents. The deal is expected to close in Q1 2014.
- 32K Nokia workers will be joining Microsoft. Stephen Elop and other senior Nokia execs (Jo Harlow, Juha Putkiranta, Timo Toikkanen, and Chris Weber) are expected to be among them. Elop has already been viewed by many as a top candidate to replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft's CEO.
- Elop is resigning as Nokia's CEO, and from the company's board, to avoid signs of conflicts of interest. He's now head of Devices & Services. Chairman Risto Siilasmaa has been named interim CEO.
- Microsoft is also licensing Nokia's Here mapping platform, and providing Nokia with €1.5B in new financing. Nokia will now focus its efforts on NSN (telecom equipment), Here, and IP licensing; with no phones to obtain licenses for, Nokia now has more leverage in patent negotiations.
- Nokia will "maintain and own" the Nokia brand. Microsoft has obtained a license to use the Nokia brand with Series 30 and Series 40 phones, but apparently not Lumia phones (which presumably will be Microsoft-branded). Nokia won't be able to use its brand "on Nokia's own mobile devices" until the end of 2015.
- Nokia will hold a shareholder's meeting on Nov. 19 to vote on the sale. The company expects the deal to be "significantly accretive to earnings." The deal has a $750M termination fee.
- PRs: Microsoft, Nokia
- Previous: Nokia, Microsoft held advanced talks about phone unit sale
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