Garmin bids $3.3b for Tele Atlas

Garmin, the world's largest maker of personal navigation devices, unveiled an unsolicited $3.3 billion offer for Dutch digital mapmaker Tele Atlas, topping an offer by rival TomTom by 15%, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said a bidding war for Tele Atlas has been seen as a possibility since October 1, when Nokia bid $8.1 billion for Navteq, the only major digital mapping company other than Tele Atlas with global operations.

The Associated Press report quoted Garmin's CEO as saying that the company felt forced to bid for Tele Atlas for competitive reasons.

'Historically, Garmin believed that an independent, competitive map duopoly served the industry well,' CEO Min Kao said. 'However, in the absence of this independent and competitive method of operating, Garmin must exercise its obligation to provide market leadership.'

TomTom is Europe's largest maker of navigation devices, but the Cayman Islands-based Garmin is larger in the US and overall, the report said.

TomTom sparked the rush to consolidate the high-growth digital mapping industry when it said it would buy Tele Atlas for $30.63 per share in July.

Tele Atlas had endorsed the TomTom bid but said it was reviewing its options in light of Garmin's higher offer, the report further said.