India court rejects Nokia plea

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NokiaLogo REUTERS A corporate logo is displayed at the Nokia flagship store in Helsinki.

New Delhi - India's Supreme Court has ordered Nokia to give a 570-million-dollar guarantee before it transfers one of its biggest mobile phone units and other assets in the country to Microsoft Corporation, news reports said Saturday.

The transfer of Nokia's plant in the southern city of Chennai, which employs 8,000 people, is part of the Finnish company's 7-billion-dollar sale of its handset business to Microsoft.

The Supreme Court Friday upheld a Delhi High Court ruling over tax dispute surrounding the Chennai plant that had been challenged by Nokia, the Business Standard newspaper reported.

The top court said the firm will have to give a 35-billion-rupee (570-million-dollar) guarantee in addition to the 22.5 billion rupees it had to deposit in an escrow account to cover the disputed tax dues of 20.8 billion rupees, according to the Economic Times daily.

Nokia had appealed the verdict in February, contending that the high court imposed new conditions over the transfer after lifting the restraint on sales of its assets in December.

Nokia said it was disappointed with Friday's decision and will consider its next legal steps.

It has so far maintained that the tax dispute would not affect the Microsoft deal that is expected to close by the end of this month.

According to Indian media outlets, Nokia's total projected tax dues could amount to 210 billion rupees, including penalities and interest. Indian authorities have been involved in several tax disputes with foreign firms including Vodafone PLC, Royal Dutch Shell and LG Electronics Inc. - Sapa-dpa

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