Nokia Confirms It’s Looking At HQ Sale, May Lease It Back, No Plans To Leave Finland

As beleaguered handset maker Nokia continues to downsize its operations to conserve cash, the handset maker is looking to sell its global headquarters in Espoo, Finland for a price of up to $387 million (€300 million). The news was first reported by the Finnish-language Helsingen Sanomat, with the real-estate price estimate coming from Ilta-Sanomat. A Nokia spokesperson has confirmed to TechCrunch that it is evaluating this option, but that it may end up leasing back the same building, and in any case has no plans to leave Finland in the process.

“As we said during Q2 results, Nokia is re-evaluating all non-core operations, including its real estate. However, we do not have any plans to move our headquarters,” a spokesperson said in an email (emphasis Nokia’s). “As with most companies whose core business is not in owning real estate, it makes common business sense not to tie assets in real estate property but rather invest and focus in its core operations.

“Divesting real estate is an entirely different thing compared to the location of the headquarters. As we have said many times before, we have no plans to move our headquarters.”

He points out that selling and re-leasing property is “not unusual” in Finland, with Kone doing the same in Keilaniemi in 2007. Similarly, UPM sold their headquarters in 2006 and Stora Enso did the same in 2008.

“It’s just a case of looking at our options when it comes to real estate and beyond,” he told TechCrunch.

Nokia is planning to cut some $2 billion in costs by the end of 2013. That has included some 10,000 jobs, several factories, and other assets such as its Qt development platform operations as well as patents. And although Nokia is a flagship Finnish business, there have been other signs that it is downsizing its presence in that country. Among the factories that have been closed down globally is the last one remaining in Finland.

Nokia’s move to turn itself around has been built around the company’s new smartphone devices build on Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, as well as deals for its smaller business in maps. Last quarter’s earnings showed that so far this strategy is slow in developing. It said it had sold 4 million Lumia Windows Phone devices, with feature phones still its biggest growth segment.

[Photo: Flickr]