Nokia Weighs Takeover of Psion, Report Says

A deal to acquire its 'smartphone' partner comes amid competition from Microsoft.
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Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

is considering acquiring

Psion

, its U.K.-based partner in cellphone-software venture Symbian, according to published reports overseas Sunday morning.

Speculation about possible linkup comes as Nokia aims to fend off a challenge from

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

in the competitive market of making software to enable more sophisticated cellphones -- the "smartphones" that include email, Internet access and other high-tech goodies.

The news reports didn't elaborate on how advanced Nokia's plans to move on Psion were nor any set figures on an acquisition -- but the deal would have to be a substantial premium to Psion's current market value of about $500 million, according to Reuters.

Nokia and Psion are the two largest partners in Symbian, a London-based software-cellphone venture formed with much fanfare that has bled money ever since, losing $60 million pretax while posting $47 million in sales last year.

Nokia owns 32.2% of Symbian, Psion holds 31.1%, Ericsson owns 17.5%, Panasonic owns 7.9%, Samsung owns 5%, Siemens owns 4.8% and Sony owns 1.5%. Motorola had been a partner in the deal, but it sold its 19% stake to Nokia and Psion this summer -- and recently said it would begin selling a phone based on Microsoft's software.

While Symbian has been losing money, Microsoft stumbled a bit out of the gate in the smartphone arena because of software glitches that bedeviled its phones. Symbian dominates the European smartphone market, but Microsoft has made the area one of its key strategic aims.

Psion makes other handheld computing devices, but much of its fortunes are tethered to the success of Symbian. Meanwhile, it wasn't clear how a potential acquisition of Psion by Nokia would affect the chances or timetable of an initial public offering of Symbian, something for which some of its backers are reportedly eager.