European regulators give Microsoft's Nokia acquisition final approval

European Union antitrust regulators have approved Microsoft's $7.3 billion acquisition of Nokia's mobile device unit, giving the final "yes" for the acquisition to go through.

The EU blessing follows US antitrust regulators' approval on Monday and approval from Nokia shareholders in November. As expected, the antitrust regulators passed the acquisition without conditions.

"The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns," the European Commission said in a statement to Reuters. It added the acquisition was unlikely "to lead to competitors being shut out from the market".

Announced in September, Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's mobile device unit will give the Redmond-based company complete access to the team behind Lumia smartphones and Nokia's treasure-trove of mobile patents.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will be joining Microsoft to head up the devices division. Some sources have reported he's a candidate to replace Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer when he retires before August 2014.

A deal between Microsoft and Nokia has long been a dream of the technology industry, with Nokia being the biggest hardware manufacturer pushing Microsoft's Windows Phone 8. Neither company has revealed how the Lumia line will fall into Microsoft's current range of devices - such as the Surface tablet - but have said manufacturers like HTC will still be able to access Windows Phone for their devices.

With all approvals now in-place, the deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014.

We've asked Microsoft for comment.