State of Finland acquires over €840m in Nokia shares

Wednesday, 14 Mar, 2018

The government investment arm of Finland, Solidium has acquired a stake in Nokia to increase its influence over the former phone manufacturer that now produces telecom network gear.

"We believe that this will be a good investment", said Antti Makinen, the head of the public investment arm Solidium.

Nokia has since focused on the telecoms side of its business, although the phone market remains an itch it is unable to resist scratching, with Nokia branded mobiles emerging from China in the form of some solid Android performers and the odd bit of nostalgic whimsy.

Between 1998 and 2007, Nokia was responsible for almost 4 per cent of Finland's annual GDP, while also being responsible for 30 per cent of the nordic country's research and development spend and some 20 per cent of its annual exports. The company declined to comment on the news.

According to Makinen, Solidium is trying to own a stake in the country's large companies with the aim of keeping them Finnish.

Fund manager Juha Varis from Danske Bank, who has Nokia among his fund's biggest investments, welcomed an entry of a long-term Finnish investor but considered Solidium's strategy as unclear.

Nokia shares were flat at 1010 GMT. "And this a significant technology company for Finland", said Mikael Rautanen, analyst at Inderes Equity Research, with a "Buy" rating on the stock.

But last month, Nokia said that major telecom operators were accelerating their schedules for adopting 5G networks, boosting hopes for an uplift for its business later this year.

Solidium cited Nokia's "strong market position combined with broad technological expertise" as reasons for the acquisition, saying these factors provided opportunities for value creation.

Solidium was founded a decade ago as a bid to distance politicians from the state's holdings. Disagreements over how Solidium should be run led to dismissal of its former chairman, and prompted a strategic reform previous year, including the drive to take up board seats.