Wednesday 18 May 2016 11:31 am

The Nokia brand is as tough as the 3310 and is making a come back: Microsoft offloads Nokia handset business to Foxconn for $350m while Finnish company HMD picks up licences

Billy Bambrough is City A.M.'s deputy news editor.

Billy Bambrough is City A.M.'s deputy news editor.

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After Microsoft bought Nokia's handset business in 2014 we thought the 1990's icon Nokia would be gone from phone shops for good.

Now it looks as though the brand is a tough as its famously indestructible 3310, after being revived by a sell off from software behemoth Microsoft.

Microsoft, after just yesterday revealing its stance on Brexit, has passed on its mobile making business to a subsidiary of Taiwanese gadget maker Foxconn.

FIH Mobile has snapped up the assets, which Microsoft bought from Nokia in 2014 for $7.5bn (£5.2bn), for just $350m.

Read more: Microsoft's just bought successful London-based startup Swiftkey

Foxconn, manufacturer of almost every phone and tablet gadget including Apple's iPhone, has been battling against persistent accusations of mistreatment of workers. 

Meanwhile, Nokia has signed a deal with new Finnish company HMD that will see it develop a new generation of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets.

The two deals seem to mark the end of any new Windows 10 devices, such as the Lumia range, though Microsoft has promised it will continue to support existing devices.

Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies, said:

Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the Nokia brand in an industry where Nokia remains a truly iconic name. Instead of Nokia returning to manufacturing mobile phones itself, HMD plans to produce mobile phones and tablets that can leverage and grow the value of the Nokia brand in global markets.

Working with HMD and FIH will let us participate in one of the largest consumer electronics markets in the world while staying true to our licensing business model.

Microsoft's push into the mobile phone market was an attempt to unseat the dominant Samsung and Apple, which continue to drive the market. 

The move was seen largely as a mistake and was conceived by previous chief executive Steve Ballmer. 

Existing boss Satya Nadella has never prioritised the mobile phone handset business since he took over in 2014. 

Read more: Microsoft founder Bill Gates backs FBI in Apple iPhone hack stand-off

Microsoft reported a dip in mobile revenue of 46 per cent in its most recent quarter. It sold 2.3m Lumias over the past three months, down 73 per cent from the same period last year. 

The Washington based software giant will continue to produce its range of Surface tablets that it is betting will become one of its leading revenue streams. 

As part of the deal, FIH Mobile will also acquire Microsoft Mobile Vietnam — the company’s Vietnam manufacturing facility.

​Vincent Tong, chairman of FIH, said:

We are looking forward to fostering a strong and long-term collaboration with HMD global and Nokia. We are impressed by the experience and expertise of the HMD management team and are committed to supporting them with our manufacturing, technology and supply chain capabilities, to capture market opportunities together in the future.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2016.