Looking to sell its plant near here, Nokia yesterday sought lifting of an asset freeze imposed by the I-T department in the wake of a tax dispute, saying it is being approached by several prospective buyers.The company in a statement said that several “prospective buyers” have been approaching it and the asset freeze is impeding the process. The Chennai-unit, one of the largest manufacturing facilities for Nokia, suspended production from November 1 in the aftermath of it being excluded out of the Nokia-Microsoft USD 7.2 billion deal. Nokia sold its handset business to technology giant Microsoft in April.
Nokia’s Chennai plant is locked in a legal dispute with the state government which slapped Rs 2,500 crore tax demand. “Nokia’s main focus at the moment is what we have consistently said since October. With production at Chennai suspended, we call on the government to lift the asset freeze imposed by the tax authorities so that we can explore potential opportunities for a sale to a suitable buyer”, the company said in a response to a query from PTI. “This is an urgent prerogative not only for Nokia, which is no longer in the business of making mobile phones, but also for the country to move towards its goal of supporting local manufacturing and reducing electronic imports.” it said.
Confirming that Nokia was approached by parties interested in buying the Chennai facility, the company said, “due to confidentiality reasons we will not comment further on this topic.” The company also said that eventual sale of the plant would offer a “far brighter option” for employment in the region and support the Centre’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. On reports of Nokia appointing ‘Ernst and Young’ to run the operations of the Chennai plant, the company said “Nokia’s longstanding policy is not to comment on media speculation”.