Nokia stock rises on rumors of Huawei acquisition

June 18, 2013

Nokia shares are up in Tuesday trading on speculation that Chinese telecommunications company Huawei may be interested in acquiring the Finnish firm.

The rumors stem from a Financial Times report that quoted Richard Yu, Huawei’s head of consumer business, as saying that Huawei is considering “these sorts of acquisitions” depending on how willing Nokia would be to a deal. Nokia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nokia shares were up as high as $4.12 from an opening price of $3.69 Tuesday, though shares settled in afternoon trading to around $3.87 per share.

The move would help Huawei’s continuing bid to raise its profile in the smartphone space. The firm was already making news Tuesday as it unveiled its latest smartphone, the Ascend P6 — the firm’s first major launch event.

The Chinese-based smartphone maker has been on the rise in the global market, coming in fourth place in global smartphone shipments behind LG, Apple and Samsung in the latest report from International Data Corporation. The firm’s shipments went from 5.1 million units in the first quarter of 2012 to 9.9 million in the same period in 2013 — a 94 percent jump.

Huawei has traditionally made “white label” feature phones, or cheaper devices that carry the branding of other companies such as a mobile carrier. That’s put the firm in a good position in its native China, which is one of the world’s most important smartphone markets, having built a reputation for offering reasonably solid phones at a low price. It only introduced the Ascend smartphone line in 2010.

In the report, IDC analysts credited this jump to Huawei’s “decreased dependence on rebranded feature phones” while it advanced development of products in the Ascend line. With the P6, the firm moving more aggressively into the high-end market.

The phone itself looks great on paper: The Ascend P6 is a a razor-thin device with a 0.24-inch profile, which the company claims makes it the world’s thinnest smartphone. It also has a 4.7-inch display and high-resolution, front-facing and rear-facing cameras that make it attractive for teleconferencing. The phone will run Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) and packs a 1.5 Ghz quad-core processor.

Still, U.S. consumers should check their excitement for now. The phone is currently only scheduled to launch in Western Europe and China, though Huawei did say that it would launch in “other markets” in the future.

Hands-on reviews from tech bloggers who attended the London launch event have been fairly complimentary — though many are reserving final judgment. CNET’s Luke Westaway noted that the manufacturing quality of the new phone was high, saying “I didn’t notice any creaking when manhandling the phone, and it feels very sturdy,” he said.

Engadget’s James Trew said that phone demonstrates that the firm has advanced on its design, as well, saying that “they’ve clearly got the right idea with the P6.” And Slashgear’s Chris Davies said that it’s an “admirable step up” from Huawei’s previous offerings.

Related stories:

If Huawei is spying in U.S., would it sponsor a Jonas Brothers tour?

Samsung, Apple face the same smartphone slowdown

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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