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Symbian raises £50m in rights issue

Smooths over Psion stake sale

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Symbian today issued £50m worth of shares in a deal which allays shareholder concerns that it was turning into a Nokia puppet.

As anticipated, the smart phone operating system supplier today revealed that shareholders Panasonic, Siemens and Sony Ericsson had exercised their right to buy a portion of Psion's 31.1 per cent stake, which the Symbian founder had put up for sale in February. Psion had announced its intention to sell the lot to Nokia.

With other shareholders' pre-emption rights plus the additional rights issue, Nokia will end up with a 47.9 per cent stake in Symbian, enough to give it real clout in the company's direction but not enough to put it in charge. Ericsson ends up with 15.6 per cent, Sony Ericsson 13.1 per cent, Panasonic 10.5 per cent, Siemens 8.4 per cent and Samsung, which, like Ericsson, had not excercised its pre-emption rights, 4.5 per cent.

The Ts will be crossed and Is dotted by 12 July 2004, Symbian said. It's unlikely to be able to say then who the company's new, independent non-executive chairman will be. Symbian is looking for one, at the behest of the shareholders, who want to ensure they get their money's worth, going forward.

In addition to smoothing over who-owns-what, the fresh rights issue secures funding for expansion. Symbian expects its cost base to rise from £70m to £100m this year, with its workforce growing 33 per cent from 900 to 1,200.

Psio has done well out of the deal too. It was to have sold its stake to Nokia for £135.5m. Now it will receive £137.7m.

As of 30 June 2004, there were ten Symbian OS licensees, one more than this time last year, with 34 "phones and variants" based on the OS in development. Some 2.4m Symbian-based handsets shipped in Q1 2004 - Symbian didn't say what was Q2's total. ®

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