Motorola presses pause on breakup plans

Motorola has decided to put on hold its planned auction of its home and networks mobility division, according to multiple reports, and may re-evaluate its intended spin off its handset division.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the situation, the company had hoped to fetch between $4 billion and $5 billion for its home and networks mobility division, which makes set-top boxes and wireless networking gear, but bids have come in between $3 billion and $4 billion. A second round of bids was expected in mid-February. This, coupled with an uptick in sales at its mobile devices division, has caused the company to re-examine its plans. Motorola will hold a board meeting later this month to decide whether to keep the handset division and the home and networks unit under a single parent, or whether to simply sell off the home and networks unit--which it still might do, the reports said.

Motorola declined to comment, and said that its stated plan of record is to spin off the handset division. Several private-equity firms bid on the home and networks division in the first round, according to the reports, but Goldman Sachs, one of the banks advising Motorola on the auction, told bidders that the company does not to want to sell the unit to a private-equity firm alone and that they should partner with a telecommunications company for the second round of bids. According to the reports, Huawei and telecom firm Arris Group have expressed interest in the unit.

Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha, who runs the handset division, has said a spin off would be timed on the business' performance and the overall economic environment.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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