UPDATE 2-Microsoft to buy Nokia's handset business for $7.2 bln
* Microsoft to pay 5.44 billion euros all-cash for devices and services business
* Nokia CEO Elop to rejoin Microsoft when deal closes
* Elop among those tipped to succeed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
* Deal expected to close in first quarter of 2014
By Terhi Kinnunen and Bill Rigby
HELSINKI/SEATTLE, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp said it will buy Nokia's phone business for 5.44 billion euros ($7.2 billion), making its boldest foray yet into mobile devices and bringing well-regarded executive Stephen Elop back into the fold.
Nokia CEO Elop, a former Microsoft executive, will return as the company's board ponders a successor to current CEO Steve Ballmer, who will depart sometime in the next 12 months after initiating an internal reorganization intended to transform the software company into a "devices and services" giant in the mold of Apple Inc.
The Canadian, hired from Microsoft in 2010, has been cited among the frontrunners for Ballmer's job.
Ballmer has been criticized for missing the mobile revolution, kicking off Microsoft's foray into the market with the tepid-selling Surface tablet only in 2012. Continued...