Nokia wants early permission to sell off its Chennai plant

Chennai, Oct 14: Finnish mobile manufacturer, Nokia wants early permission to sell off its plant in Chennai and put the money from the deal in escrow account till the time its tax dispute with Indian government is resolved.

"We have said that if we are allowed to sell the factory, any money we get from the sale, we would put it in the escrow account. It won't be ours. We would put it in a place until the tax dispute is resolved," said Barry French, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Corporate Affairs, Nokia. In first comments by a top executive after Nokia's last week's decision to suspend operations at its mobile manufacturing unit near Chennai, French expressed concern over the status of the plant and its declining value.

"What is particularly crazy is that the value of the facility is going down literally every day," he said. "It would be in the interest of everybody that we get what value we can get from the amount," he added. Nokia has announced suspension of operations at Chennai plant, once the biggest facility of the company anywhere in the world, from November 1 which has thrown into uncertainty the future of about 1,100 employees currently working there.

"We will be happy to put the money into escrow and try to find a buyer to get the jobs back. It is heartbreaking," French said. The Helsinki-based company was forced to keep the factory out of a USD 7.5 billion deal for sale of its handset business to Microsoft Corp, due to tax dispute with Indian authorities. Tax authorities allege that Nokia avoided paying taxes by wrongfully claiming an exemption on software exports. Nokia has challenged the claims of tax department in courts.


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