By Jussi Rosendahl
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland's Nokia said on Monday it has gained control of French counterpart Alcatel-Lucent following its 15.6-billion-euro ($17 billion) all-share offer and the two telecom equipment makers would start to combine their operations next week.
The Alcatel acquisition will put Nokia into a stronger position to compete with Sweden's Ericsson and China's Huawei in a market for telecom network gear where limited growth and tough competition are pressuring prices.
The French stock market authority said interim results from the offer showed Nokia would hold around 79 percent of Alcatel shares.
The offers in France and the United States will be reopened this month, and the final results will be published in February.
Nokia said it will move quickly to press on with integration ahead of the formal closure of the deal, expected during the first quarter.
"As of January 14, 2016, Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent will offer a combined end-to-end portfolio of the scope and scale to meet the needs of our global customers," Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri said.
Shares in the company rose 0.6 percent by 1410 GMT on the Helsinki bourse which was down 2.1 percent.
The stock is still down about 10 percent since the announcement of the deal in April as investors have worried about the integration process and special terms negotiated by the French government.
But in October, Nokia brought forward the deal's 900 million euro cost-saving target by a year to 2018.
"They are well on track with this deal, it seems they have calculated the deal's 'margins of safety' rather carefully. Now, they can keep up a positive news flow," said Jukka Oksaharju, strategist at Nordnet brokerage.
The deal, set to become the biggest transaction in Finland's corporate history, follows a string of M&A moves that have restructured former mobile phone giant Nokia in recent years.
In 2013, it took control of its network business by buying out Siemens from a joint venture, and in 2014 it sold the ailing mobile phone business to Microsoft. Last year it also sold navigation business HERE. ($1 = 0.9184 euros)
(Editing by Jason Neely and Keith Weir)