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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
The Land of the Mobile Millionaires
First broadcast October 2007

Mobile phone
Matthew Sweet presents the extraordinary story of Finland's Nokia Millionaires.

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The Finnish farming village of Pukkila lies to the north-east of Helsinki.

In 1962 Onni Nurmi, a reclusive bachelor from the village, died leaving a few hundred shares in a small company that produced rubber boots.

His sole stipulation was that the shares were never to be sold and that the dividends were to be used "for the recreation of the people" living in the village's modest nursing home.

Mr Nurmi's bequest was executed and the sluggish pace of life in Pukkila continued uninterrupted for the next 30 years. Then, in 1992, the value of the shares rocketed and they became worth tens of millions of pounds sterling overnight.

The rubber boot company was Nokia. It had diversified into the mobile telephony business in the 1980s and soon became the world's largest manufacturer of mobile phones. Its shares have since made millionaires of the elderly residents of the Pukkila nursing home.

Aside from this, Nokia provides tens of thousands of jobs and has single-handedly pulled Finland out of the recession of the early 1990s, which was brought on by the loss of the country's most important markets as the Soviet Union collapsed.

But 'Nokianisation' has created a society with a split personality: a high tax economy with a large public sector on the one hand and a pioneering global player on the other.

Moreover, Finland is a mere one per cent of Nokia's market. So what's to keep the company based there? It's a growing anxiety in Finland that its figurehead company may decide to re-locate elsewhere.

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