BRUSSELS--Microsoft Corp. (>> Microsoft Corporation) on Wednesday won unconditional approval from the European Union to buy Nokia Corp.'s mobile phone business, a deal the U.S. software giant hopes will propel it into the market for digital devices.
The 5.4 billion euro ($7.2 billion) purchase includes a 10-year licensing agreement of the Finnish smartphone maker's patent portfolio and its smartphone products.
The approval was widely expected and comes two days after the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission cleared the deal.
The European Commission, the EU antitrust authority, said it found "minimal overlap" of the companies' activities.
"Several strong rivals, such as Samsung and Apple, will continue to compete with the merged entity," the commission said in a statement.
The company has said it expects the deal to close in the first quarter of 2014.
Nokia agreed to the deal in September after struggling to recover from its late entry in the smartphone business. About 32,000 Nokia employees are expected to join Microsoft.
Nokia shareholders agreed to the sale last month.
The company was once Finland's flagship, worth 4% of the national gross domestic product.
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