The Nokia case provides an opportunity to explore financing alternatives in a situation of broad strategic change. The case emphasizes the difficulties of managing the financial resources of technology-based companies when they fall behind in product innovation. Nokia, the world's leading producer of mobile phones, had recently seen its market share and profits eroded by rival products such as Apple's iPhone and phones featuring Google's Android operating system. In February 2011, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced a strategic plan and partnership with Microsoft to have Windows serve as its primary OS for smartphones. Since that announcement, Nokia reported a net loss in earnings, followed by a downgrade of its credit rating in the summer of 2012.
Analysts regard the next two years as a period of great uncertainty for the company. In January 2012, the CFO of Nokia estimates that the firm might require up to EUR4.3 billion in funding over the next two years to implement the plan under a representative downside scenario. Students are asked to evaluate the tradeoffs of raising the funds by issuing long-term debt, issuing equity, cutting dividends, or reducing cash. Given the firm's recent competitive struggles, none of the options is particularly appealing, which forces careful consideration of tradeoffs.
The Nokia is appropriate for use in upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses covering topics in capital raising, capital structure, corporate finance, and the costs of financing. A spreadsheet file of case exhibits to facilitate student preparation, teaching note, and instructional spreadsheet file are available for the case.