Nokia chief Stephen Elop is trying to rid himself of his numerous shares in Microsoft, he said at a press conference ahead of the start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
After rumours emerged that Elop, who headed up Microsoft's Office division before joining Nokia last year, was the seventh-biggest individual investor in his old employer and new business partner, he moved quickly to say he had never been in such a pecunious position.
"That is not true — that would be a very substantial sum of money which I do not have," Elop insisted on Sunday, while conceding that he had "accumulated a very substantial position of Microsoft shares" while at that company.
On Sunday, Nokia showed off a new rendering of one of their Windows Phone concept designs
When he moved to Nokia in September, Elop was legally prohibited from selling any of his Microsoft shares for a month, he said. Once that month was over, he began divesting himself of the shares, but Nokia's subsequent talks with Microsoft that resulted in Friday's announcement of a grand partnership around Windows Mobile meant he had to put those sales on hold for a second time, due to insider trading rules.
"As soon as I'm clear of the legal restrictions, of course I'll get rid of those remaining shares," Elop said, adding that as soon as he is allowed to purchase Nokia shares he will be "there in the market showing a vote of confidence" in his new charge.
Elop also put a small amount of specificity on the financial implications of the deal between Nokia and Microsoft, saying that it was a net benefit to Nokia "in the billions". "It's a recognition... that we are swinging an ecosystem in their direction," he said.
He also hinted at Nokia and Microsoft's plans for using their combined intellectual power portfolio to "defend the ecosystem from outside attacks" and make sure that they collected the relevant "value" from other companies.
Nokia did not show off any new phones on Sunday, and refused to say when the first Nokia Windows Phone would appear. Elop said that the company would be "reducing the amount of time between when we announce the date [of a new product] and when it actually [launches]", and said the time was therefore not yet ready to announce such a device.
However, Nokia smartphones chief Jo Harlow did show off a second rendering of concepts for a Nokia Windows Phone — a first rendering was leaked in recent days.
Elop pointed out that the Qt development environment used for Symbian handsets would not be usable for developing Windows Phone 7 applications. "If we encourage a divergence of development platforms, then we create an environment where we potentially confuse developers, confuse consumers and even slow down the development [of Windows Phone 7]," he said.
The new Nokia chief had a few words to say about Friday's walk-out of workers in Nokia's Symbian division, who learned that their platform had a maximum life-span remaining of about two years. He said employees had to go through an "intellectual journey" towards understanding the ratrionale behind the move to Windows Phone 7, and were now starting on an "emotional journey", as they realised their jobs were in jeopardy.
"There are people in engineering and research and development labs who are hurting right now," Elop said.