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Nokia Sells Oulu Campus For €30.5M, Leases Back Space — Leaving Room For Finnish Startups

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The assets sale at Nokia, the world’s former number one mobile maker, continues. After selling and leasing back its headquarters in December — injecting $230 million (€170 million) into its coffers —  the company has now sold its Peltola campus in Oulu to domestic business space provider Technopolis for €30.5 million (Technopolis’ total investment is €31.7 million).

Asset sales are one way Nokia has been bolstering its net cash. Announcing its Q4 earnings last month, it reported a rise in net cash — adding €800 million over the quarter to a total of $5.9 billion (€4.4 billion) net cash. Over the last year Nokia’s net cash position has become a subject of scrutiny, as device sales and profits disappointed and credit agencies worried the company would have to dig into reserves to meet business obligations.

The latest Nokia campus sale was detailed in a filing with the Finnish Stock Exchange, spotted by TNW. The rentable space of the campus totals approximately 37,600 sqm and includes a parking garage with 800 parking spaces, according to the filing. Nokia is not vacating the campus entirely — but will lease just under half of the space (17,400 sqm) from Technopolis under a long-term lease. It’s not clear which Nokia functions will remain at the Oulu campus. At the time of writing the company had not responding to requests for clarification. Update: Nokia has confirmed its operations at the Oulu campus will remain the same, post-sale. A spokesman said: “Nokia will lease from Technopolis the same space that we currently use, 17,400 square metres, so our occupancy in Oulu is not affected by the sale and our operations will also continue there as today.”

The campus is “suitable as a multi-user environment”, and its properties are described as “modern” and “flexible”, according to Technopolis, which said the campus will complement another 27,000 sqm campus it also owns in the area. It noted that more than 100 organizations in ICT, biosciences, health and well-being operate in the area already, and the city of Oulu is aiming to create 700 new jobs there by 2016.

To proponents of ‘creative destruction’ economic theory, Nokia’s decline may very look like the European startup ecosystem’s gain — with both campus space and talent being freed up to work for smaller entities. Nokia has laid off nearly 16,000 people in its devices and location business since it began its move away from the Symbian platform to using Microsoft’s Windows Phone for smartphones.

One such Oulu-based startup we covered last year – which also has ex-Nokia founders – is Valkee, a company that makes a device that shines lights onto your brain cells through your ear canals to treat seasonal affective disorder. Another local example, Finnish gaming startup Supercell, moved into an old Nokia research center after the once mighty Finn began downsizing.

While, slighter further afield in Europe, is Leikr, a Danish Kickstarter-funded sports watch, whose team includes ex-Nokia staff who were freed up to work on their own projects after the closure of a Nokia research facility in Copenhagen.