Nokia has reportedly gotten a lot of interest in its up-for-sale HERE maps division, and it's looking increasingly likely a consortium of car makers will soon make an official offer.
According to a detailed report on Reuters, German automakers Mercedes, Audi and BMW have joined forces with private equity firm General Atlantic to make an offer on Nokia Networks 's HERE business unit, which went on the block when Nokia announced last month that it would acquire Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). (See Nokia Puts HERE Up for Sale and Nokia Makes €15.6B Bid for Alcatel-Lucent.)
The group isn't the only one interested in HERE, however. Social network giant Facebook , ride service Uber, in partnership with Chinese search engine Baidu and Apax Partners, as well as Tencent Holdings with NavInfo Co. and EQT Partners AB, have all also been named as potential acquirers. (See Eurobites: Uber Bids $3B for Nokia's HERE and Eurobites: Nokia's HERE Locates Potential Buyers.)
Each of the German carmakers is apparently prepared to contribute up to €700 million ($780 million) to close the deal, said to be worth between $2-to-$4 billion.
If the cash doesn't do the trick, sources suggest to Reuters that the threat of not doing business with HERE, which counts on the carmakers to embed its mapping software, might convince Nokia to take the offer.
Reuters's sources also suggest that PE firm General Atlantic would control up to 30% of HERE, and that the carmakers are open to bringing on other financial players to support the deal, provided they get overall control of the map assets. Reuters said the process could go public within days.
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading