The approval, which was expected, was dated November 29.

The next step will be for the companies to win approval in Europe for the proposed USD 7.3 billion transaction.

Two people familiar with the matter said on November 22 that the transaction was headed for unconditional approval in Brussels. The EU competition watchdog has set a December 4 deadline for its decision.

Nokia had in September agreed to sell its devices and services business and license its patents to Microsoft after failing to recover from a late start in the smartphone sector.

The purchase underscores Microsoft's push into the competitive consumer devices market, where it faces fierce competition from market leader Samsung Electronics and Apple.

Nokia shareholders in mid-November gave a thumbs-up to the sale of what was once Finland's biggest brand, at one point worth four percent of the national GDP.

(Agencies)

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