Nokia shareholders are set to approve the sale of the company's mobile phone business to Microsoft later today.
More than 99 per cent of shareholders registered in advance of an extraordinary general meeting in Helsinki to vote on the deal, accounting for around 45 per cent of the total shares, approved the sale, deciding the deal's financial benefits outweighed objections by a minority of investors upset by the sale of a Finnish national asset.
A final tally is expected in the next few hours and the deal, which only requires approval from holders of a straight majority of the company's shares, is expected to close in the first quarter of next year after regulatory clearance.
Nokia agreed in September to sell its devices and services business and license its patents to Microsoft for €5.44bn ($4.56bn) after failing to recover from a late start in smartphones.
"I think it's a fair price if you think about the situation right now," said Matti Pirkola, a 58-year-old shareholder as he arrived for the meeting in Helsinki's Ice Hall arena.
The sale is set to boost Nokia's net cash position to nearly €8bn from around €2bn in the third quarter, which is likely to help the company regain investment-grade status from the major credit rating agencies and allow it to return cash to shareholders, possibly through a dividend payment.
Nokia earlier this year suspended its annual dividend for the first time in the 148-year-old company's recorded history in an attempt to preserve cash.
Without the loss-making handset business, the remaining company will earn over 90 per cent of sales from telecom equipment unit Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), formerly Nokia Siemens Networks prior to the Finnish firm buying the German firm’s 50 per cent stake, and will also include a navigation software business and a trove of patents.