In yet another sign that it has turned a corner and is brimming with confidence, mobile network infrastructure specialist Nokia Networks has struck a deal by buy the radio access network (RAN) division of Japanese technology vendor Panasonic System Networks.
Nokia Networks is buying assets and customer contracts and will take on a number of employees in Japan. According to local media reports, the Panasonic System Networks currently generates revenues at a run rate of about $190 million per year, about 10% of the total mobile broadband network infrastructure market in Japan.
Panasonic's main RAN equipment customer is Japan's leading mobile operator NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), where Nokia Networks is also a strategic supplier. The other major mobile operators in Japan are KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Mobile Corp. . (See Docomo Chooses LTE-Advanced Partners.)
Panasonic is selling the unit as part of a broader corporate restructuring strategy that will see it focus on core IT markets.
Financial details were not released. The deal is expected to close by January 1 next year.
Nokia's chief aim is to solidify its position in Japan, a key Asia-Pacific market for Nokia Networks (formerly NSN) and key rival Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), especially as 4G matures and 5G developments pick up pace. Competition in intense in the Japanese mobile networks market, as NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) and Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY) are also key (indigenous) players. (See DoCoMo Unveils 5G Trial Plans.)
Nokia Networks generated revenues of €1.39 billion (US$1.34 billion) in Japan during 2013 from all parts of its business (hardware, software, and professional services), down by 36% from 2012. The decline was due to a number of factors, including currency exchange rate shifts, and a reduction in network rollouts in Japan during 2013.
Nokia Networks, which continues to improve its financial fortunes quarter-by-quarter, has spent the past few years selling non-core assets and shrinking its operations, so an acquisition is a significant statement of intent, even if it is focused on one (albeit important) market. (See Nokia Holds Steady in Q2, Raises Outlook.)
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading