Symbian Owners To Increase Stakes
By Carlo Longino, Wed Jul 07 00:30:00 GMT 2004

Symbian's shareholders -- bar Samsung -- will Wednesday exercise their pre-emptive rights to prevent Nokia from owning more than half the company.

It hasn't come as much of a shock that the other owners will take up the rights, as many analysts say Nokia holding over 50 percent of Symbian would create the perception that the OS company wasn't independent of the handset giant, potentially weakening its support -- even though Symbian's corporate structure requires a 70 percent stake to take control of the company.

Siemens and Panasonic will exercise their rights, The Financial Times reports, while Sony Ericsson will exercise its as well as those held separately by Ericsson, holding Nokia's new stake at about 49 percent, up from its current 32.2 percent. Nokia's holding could have been as high as 63.3 percent, without any other shareholders taking up their rights, or as low as 46.6 percent, should they all have been taken.

It was always doubtful that Symbian's other shareholders would let Nokia take control of the company, and Symbian CEO David Levin said at 3GSM in February the company hoped the other shareholders would increase their stakes. The move should also reinforce the broad support across the industry for Symbian, which now has 13 licensees, and help erase any concerns over its future as a joint venture rather than a Nokia project.