Struggling communications company Nokia has announced a delay to the sale of its phone unit to Microsoft.

It said the deal will not be completed until next month because it is still waiting for approval from regulators in Asia.

The Finnish firm’s €5.4bn (£4.5bn) deal, announced last September, was expected to be completed in the first quarter of this year.

It said the sale has been approved by both EU and US authorities but “certain antitrust authorities In Asia” are still reviewing the deal.

Last week, Nokia said it was contesting a legal case in India where local authorities want it to pay sales tax on the export of phones made at a plant in Chennai.

Legislation in some countries requires local regulatory approval for transactions that affect companies in the region.

Once the global leader in mobile phones, Nokia has struggled with the rise of smartphone technology.

Recent research showed that more than two-thirds of people now use the hi-tech devices, with some 85% of the latest phone sales being smartphones.

Nokia has continued to lag competitors even though it has sought to regain ground with the release of its Lumia range more than a year ago.

But smartphone sales still languish and they dropped by 29% in the last three months of 2013.

Last month it revealed a cut-price £24 smartphone for developing countries, as a way of finding a niche not exploited by phone giants Samsung and Apple.

Nokia has said that it plans to focus on intellectual property in future, once it divests the phone unit.

Other divisions it operates include solutions, networks, mapping services and advanced technologies.

But those units have also suffered recently – with a sales slump to Q4 last year – down 21% from the 2012 figure.

Source: Skynews