Motorola is negotiating the sale of its 19 percent stake in Symbian Ltd. to Nokia and Psion, the companies announced Friday.

Smart phone OS (operating system) developer Symbian turned five years old yesterday (Thursday), ending agreements between founding shareholders Motorola, Nokia, Psion and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson not to sell their stakes, according to a Psion spokeswoman.

Although Motorola is selling its stake in Symbian, that does not mark the end of the two companies' relationship, according to Motorola spokesman Patrick Hamilton. Motorola has just released its first smart phone based on the Symbian OS, and will continue to use Symbian's software under licence, he said.

The real focus of Motorola's smart phone development effort is Java, Hamilton said. "The actual operating system being used is not that relevant. Our position on Java is not dependent on us using one OS. We will continue to use a number of operating systems," he said. Those operating systems will include Symbian OS, Linux and one of Motorola's own devising, Hamilton said.

The sale will raise Psion's stake in Symbian from 25.3 percent to 31.1 percent, while Nokia's stake will increase from 19 percent to 32.2 percent, Psion said in a statement. Motorola's Hamilton confirmed those figures, but would not confirm the price Psion and Nokia will pay.

The agreed price values Symbian at £300 million (US$473 million), according to Psion and Nokia. Psion will pay Motorola £17.4 million in cash for its share, it said in a statement. The stakes held by Symbian's other shareholders would probably remain unchanged, Hamilton said.

According to Psion, those stakes are 17.5 percent for Ericsson, 7.9 percent for Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), 5.0 percent for Samsung Electronics., 4.8 percent for Siemens and 1.5 percent for Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.

The deal is subject to approval by regulators and the other shareholders, who have a right to preempt such sales. Nokia expects the deal to close in a matter of weeks, it said in a statement.

Last week, Symbian reported that 2.68 million handheld devices using its software were shipped in the first half of this year, up from just 230,000 a year earlier, while royalty revenue from software licensees increased from £1.5 million to £10.5 million over the same period.