Nokia shareholders have overwhelmingly approved the sale of the ailing cellphone and services division and a license to a portfolio of patents to Microsoft Corp. for $7.2 billion.

The vote came at the end of a five-hour extraordinary meeting of shareholders on Wednesday called by the Finnish phone maker that has seen its global market share shrink as it battles stiff competition from Apple and Google Inc. in the lucrative smartphone trade.

The approval, representing 99.5 per cent of shares owned by 3,900 voters at the meeting, had been widely expected as Nokia’s stock price has more than doubled since the September announcement of the deal.

On Wednesday, however, it closed down 3 per cent at 5.82 euros on the Helsinki Stock Exchange.

Shareholders braved cold, November rain in the Finnish capital to attend the much-anticipated meeting.

Hannu Ryyppo, a retired shareholder said he was pleased by the result after watching the gradual decline of the company.

“Now it feels good again. This is a really good result,” Mr. Ryyppo said. “It’s a new beginning for Nokia.”

Chairman Risto Siilasmaa said he was aware that the sale “would raise deep feelings” among Finns for whom Nokia was a symbol of the small Nordic country’s success. But, he added, it was the best deal for the company and the best offer for the loss-making devices and services unit.

Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft will pay 3.79 billion euros for the Nokia unit that makes mobile phones and 1.65 billion euros for a 10-year license to use Nokia’s patents, with the option to extend it indefinitely.

Following the sale, which is expected to complete in early 2014, Nokia will be known as Nokia Solutions and Networks and will be focusing its resources on providing technology used by mobile devices for the transfer of data, including phone calls, video and connecting to the Internet.

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