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Nokia to be Symbian lead owner

HELSINKI -- Nokia will become majority owner of Symbian Ltd. as Psion becomes the second cofounder to cash out of the mobile device software consortium only months after boosting its investment by acquiring part of Motorola's stake.

The purchase of Psion's 31 percent stake in Symbian, an operating system for "smart" cellphones and handheld devices, will nearly double Nokia's interest to 63.3 percent.

The transaction announced yesterday calls for Psion, a London-based maker of mobile device software, to be paid 137 million euros ($172 million), plus 1.23 euros ($1.54) for each Symbian-based device sold during the next two years.

The divestitures by Motorola last summer and now Psion come as industry players position themselves for an expected explosion of demand for cellphones that double as personal organizers, wireless Internet connections, video and music players, digital cameras, and game consoles.

Microsoft and PalmSource are among Symbian's leading rivals, while others are trying to develop a Linux operating system for mobile devices.

Psion's exit from Symbian, formed in 1998, comes less than half a year after it purchased about a third of Motorola's 19 percent stake. Nokia had purchased the remainder of the US company's stake in a deal announced last August.

Other remaining investors include Sony Ericsson, Siemens, Samsung, and Matsushita.

Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, said it will continue "to support Symbian's long-term success in the increasingly competitive . . . market."

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