Psion shareholder opposes Symbian sale

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The Independent Online

Psion suffered a setback yesterday when its biggest shareholder said it would vote against the technology company's plans to sell its 31 per cent stake in the mobile phone technology venture Symbian.

Phoenix Asset Management Partners, which owns 13.5 per cent of Psion, urged the company to continue pushing for Symbian to be floated instead.

The rebel investor - set up by two former Nomura bankers - said it wanted to see a "less conservative route with greater risks and uncertainty in the expectation of higher returns".

They urged other investors to vote against the resolution which will be put to shareholders at a meeting a week today.

City sources said last night that Phoenix was simply "taking a punt" that if Psion's proposal failed, then Symbian might be floated or Nokia might return with a higher offer.

Shares in Psion, which spawned the Symbian business six years ago, collapsed last month after it said it was planning to sell its stake in Symbian to Nokia for an initial £93.5m, as many in the City took the view that it was selling its most exciting arm on the cheap.

But Psion has hinted that a flotation of Symbian seems extremely unlikely in the near term, partly because of Nokia's dominant position within the venture. Psion founder David Potter has said the company's lack of control of Symbian was behind its decision to sell.

Psion said yesterday it felt that there was "a growing divergence of interests between those shareholders who are customers of Symbian and those who are not", and said that "could have an adverse effect on the value that might be achieved in the future".

It reiterated its view that selling the stake was in the best interests of shareholders. The company is also due to get two extra performance-related payments over the next two years from the deal.