Motorola Mobility Says $12.5B Google Deal To Close Tuesday Or Wednesday. Layoffs Coming?

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Google has reached the final regulatory hurdle to its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, with China approving the transaction over the weekend, and today Motorola Mobility filed an 8-K form that notes that it will close in the next two business days.

So what happens next? A “listening tour,” a source tells us, with new management visiting the whole of the operation, “seeing what everyone does, then making decisions.” One decision that may be close at hand has to do with headcount: we have heard that there will be layoffs coming imminently. At the same time, more details are emerging about the conditions that China put on the deal: they include a guarantee that Android would remain free and open source for the next five years.

Motorola’s statement today noted that the approval from the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce of China came on May 19, 2012, as we reported earlier.  “As the transaction has now received all required regulatory approvals, the companies are moving to close the transaction within two business days,” it notes.

Motorola’s statement to the market today does not cover restructuring, and Google declined to comment on what we heard.

However, there is a precedent. When Google bought DoubleClick, which had a mere 1,600 employees, it had a mandate to cut 40 percent of that staff. Motorola Mobility, at the time of the Google acquisition announcement last year, had 19,000 employees. It has, however, been going through restructuring already that has been reducing that number, laying off 800 people at the end of October 2011. At the time, Motorola said this was part of a wider restructuring not related to the Google deal but ongoing cost-cutting plans.

Motorola and Google have not confirmed who will be heading up its Motorola operations. In February, Google put its head of Americas, Dennis Woodside, to oversee the merger, and so he is being tipped to head the whole operation after the deal closes, although others have tipped Nikesh Arora, Google’s Chief Business Officer, to lead the operation.

China’s approval of the deal and the inclusion of the Android guarantee points to how central that operating system has become to Chinese smartphone market. In both official Android and forked forms, it has become the most popular platform — in part because its free licensing allows for companies to make devices as cheap as possible.