Motorola dumps Symbian stake

Symbian, the technology firm owned by Psion and a consortium of mobile phone makers, was dealt a blow yesterday after one of the original founders - Motorola - ditched its 19 per cent stake in the business at the first possible opportunity.

The move by the US telecoms company, which is selling the shares for £57m to Psion and Nokia, sparked fears that other shareholders in the venture, possibly Ericsson, might bail out too. Psion shares closed the day down 3.75p at 78.25p.

It also highlighted the battle for supremacy in providing the technology that powers mobile phones. Symbian is hoping its kit will emerge as an industry standard in the face of competition from Microsoft.

While Motorola will remain a licencee of Symbian's technology, it is thought to be keen to use a combination of the Linux operating system with java technology as its mobile phone platform as well as Microsoft. That, sources say, caused friction with Nokia, which was a factor in its decision to sell shares.

The transaction, which will see Motorola sell a 5.8 per cent stake in the business to Psion for £17.4m and the balance to Nokia, values Symbian at £300m.

It was the first time that shareholders in the company could sell any stock under the rules of an agreement that had prevented share sales until Symbian's fifth anniversary, which fell on Thursday.

The £300m valuation is slightly less than the £340m price tag that Symbian had in February when the electronics giant Samsung paid £17m for a 5 per cent stake.