Report: Microsoft Considered Nokia Buyout Late Last Year

It’s tough to be Nokia these days. The company’s stock has been steadily slipping for a year and a half and is currently sitting at a 15-year low, and despite the Lumia 900’s flagship beauty, all signs point to its reception being lukewarm at best with consumers.

As with the struggling RIM, Nokia’s weak position has led to rampant buyout rumors. On the same weekend that whispers of a Samsung acquisition were heard — and very quickly shut down — The Register reports that Microsoft considered acquiring all or part of Nokia at the end of last year, but “ran away screaming” after looking at the other company’s books.

To be fair, The Register’s “well-placed sources” say the reluctance was mutual: in addition to Microsoft’s disinterest, Nokia reportedly didn’t really feel like selling, either. The Finnish phone manufacturer has been flying through its cash reserves in recent years, but still has well north of $3 billion in its pocket, so it has plenty of maneuvering room to remain independent and still make a comeback.

If Elop can’t right the Nokia ship before the cash well runs dry, The Register’s Andrew Orlowski thinks that Microsoft will then make a bid for the company and its wealth of intellectual property and Windows Phone know-how — but at a much lower valuation than Nokia’s market price today. At its current rate of spending, Nokia could run out of cash somewhere around 2014.

Nokia and Microsoft have deep ties: Stephen Elop was a Microsoft executive until jumping ship to become Nokia’s CEO in 2010, and shortly after his arrival, Nokia announced it was turning away from its home-grown Symbian operating system and entering into a deal to use Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform.

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