According to the Register at one point in late 2011 Microsoft was considering a purchase of Nokia with the deal progressing to the point that Microsoft was allowed to see Nokiaâ€™s books.
What they found there however was not encouraging, and Microsoft decided not to pursue the venture any further.
But well-placed sources tell us that Microsoft was given access to Nokiaâ€™s books late last year in an attempt to evaluate which parts, if any, were worth acquiring. Not many people know this. The story is that having had a gander, Microsoft walked away.
The only reason Microsoft would have paid a premium for Nokia last year was to keep it out of the hands of a rival. But itâ€™s hard to see which buyer would have valued Nokia as highly as Microsoft does, and would have paid a premium.
Late 2011 was of course well after Nokia committed to Windows Phone, and around the same time they released the Nokia Lumia 800.
While The Register speculates Microsoft is just waiting for Nokia to be cheap enough, we think it is much more likely Microsoft will use their resources to support Nokia as an independent company, and thereby still getting the benefit of their commitment while not taking on their capital costs related to staff, factories and pension commitments etc. These would of course be the very issues which will soon make Google look much less attractive on the balance sheets when they integrate Motorola.
On the other hand, we are also pretty sure Microsoft has right of first refusal if Nokia was being targeted for purchase by an entity hostile to Microsoft, such as Apple or Google, so overall I think Nokia share holders are much safer in their investment than they have been acting recently.