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Psion minority stakeholder against Symbian sale to Nokia

LONDON-A firm representing about 13 percent of Psion plc’s shareholders said it will vote against the company’s plans to sell its stake in operating system company Symbian to Nokia Corp.

Phoenix Asset Management, which owns about 13 percent of Psion’s shares, said Psion should instead spin Symbian off in an initial public offering. According to reports, Phoenix Asset Management said a Symbian IPO would be a greater risk, but has the potential for a higher reward to Psion shareholders.

In a release, Psion countered Phoenix’s claims. The firm said its deal with Nokia would reward its shareholders while holding risks to a minimum.

“The board of Psion has taken into account its rights under the Symbian shareholders’ agreement and notes that agreement does not provide for an IPO of Symbian without the agreement of all its shareholders,” Psion said in the release. “The board of Psion also reiterates its belief that there is a growing divergence of interests between those shareholders who are customers of Symbian and those who are not. This could have an adverse effect on the value that might be achieved in the future.”

Representatives from Nokia and Ericsson-two of Symbian’s biggest stakeholders-were not immediately available for comment.

Psion’s plan to sell its Symbian stake is up for shareholder approval on March 12. David Potter, Psion’s chairman, owns 12 percent of the company’s stock and has said he will vote in favor of the sale.

Nokia last month said it would pay an estimated $252 million to buy Psion’s 31-percent stake in Symbian. Nokia agreed to pay an initial $174 million for Psion’s claim, with additional payments over the next two years based on the number of devices sold. The agreement calculates Symbian’s total value at about $811 million.

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