Mobile Fair - Skype happy to hire Finnish engineers

BARCELONA Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:20pm IST

Skype Chief Executive Tony Bates speaks at the Verizon press conference on the opening day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 6, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Skype Chief Executive Tony Bates speaks at the Verizon press conference on the opening day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 6, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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BARCELONA (Reuters) - Internet telephone service Skype said Nokia's alliance with Microsoft presented an opportunity for the company to tap into Finnish engineering talent looking for new jobs.

"There is going to be tremendous talent out there," Skype Chief Executive Tony Bates told Reuters on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

"Our primary engineering focus just so happens to be somewhere between Finland, Estonia and Stockholm, so you can imagine that's a great opportunity and we're hiring," Bates said.

Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop on Friday announced a partnership with Microsoft under which Nokia will adopt Windows Phone software across its devices, replacing its home-grown Symbian platform, a move which will lead to job cuts.

A Finnish union boss said the alliance threatens more than 5,000 Finnish research and development jobs at Nokia and its subcontractors.

Skype, 30 percent owned by Web retailer eBay Inc and which offers free calls over the Internet, has said it was seeking to hire 350 staff this year.

Skype has so far found little success on wireless devices since most telecoms operators see it as a risk to their core phone call business, but after its first deal with U.S. carrier Verizon last year it has partnered with Japanese cellphone operator KDDI and Qatar Telecom.

Bates also said Skype, which in January acquired mobile video company Qik, would look at more acquisitions to expand its mobile and video offering.

There were more "build by partner options", Bates said and added: "Like any company that's in growth mode you have to look at these options."

Asked if plans for an initial public listing were still on, Bates declined comment. Should a deal occur, the value of the IPO will range from $750 million to $1 billion, Reuters has reported previously.

Skype was acquired in 2005 for $3.1 billion by eBay, which then sold a majority stake to an investor group that included Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Andreessen Horowitz.

(Editing by David Holmes)

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