Nokia navigating 4 offers for its HERE mapping business

Nokia reportedly attracted four potential bidders for its HERE mapping business, after announcing it is reviewing the division's future alongside a proposed acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent.

Car makers BMW, Audi and Daimler are said to be interested in a joint bid for Nokia's navigation business, with ride-sharing app developer Uber, U.S. private equity company Hellman & Friedman, and Facebook also expressing interest, Reuters reported, citing German trade publication Manager Magazin.

The German magazine appears to suggest that the auto makers mentioned had already tabled a bid for HERE before the current strategic review was announced.

Nokia is seeking €2 billion ($2.1 billion) for its navigation business, Manager Magazin reported. That value is far lower than the $8.1 billion (€7.5 billion) Nokia spent to enter the navigation space in 2008 when it acquired U.S. specialist Navteq, and also falls short of an estimated value of between €4.4 billion and €6.9 billion placed on the business by Inderes Equity Research, Reuters noted.

While HERE appears to have been a successful venture for Nokia, particularly in the automotive sector where the technology was licensed for use in 3.9 million vehicles in 2014 compared to 3.2 million vehicles in 2013, the division failed to capitalise on an increase in revenues through 2014. Operating profit fell 35 per cent year-on-year to €31 million in 2014, and was down 20 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter at €20 million.

If a sale of HERE proceeds, Nokia would be left with its Networks business and its Nokia Technologies IP licensing unit.

The latter was this week linked to reports that Nokia is preparing to re-enter the smartphone market in early 2016.

Sister publication FierceWireless reported the vendor could seek to replicate the licensing approach taken with its recently launched N1 tablet PC, whereby the company handles all of the design and then licenses the reference design to third-party manufacturers.

For more:
- see this Reuters report
- view this Manager Magazin article (in German)
- see Nokia's 2014 earnings statement [PDF]
- read this FierceWireless report

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