Nokia's HERE unit reportedly drawing bids from German automakers, Baidu, Uber and maybe even Facebook

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is still searching for a potential buyer for its HERE mapping and location business, as German car companies, Uber, Chinese search engine Baidu and perhaps even Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) jockey with each other to get access to HERE's assets and technology.

Bloomberg report from last week, which cited unnamed sources, said that the only stumbling block for a consortium of Audi, BMW and Daimler buying HERE was the asking price. The deadline for bids was last Thursday, according to multiple reports.  

As TechCrunch reports in an extensive look at the potential bidders, HERE was last valued at $2 billion but will likely fetch more than that as companies hunt for Nokia's maps, driving directions, location technology and patents.

One former longtime senior HERE employee told TechCrunch there are around 300 different location attributes, with corresponding historical databases, that can be tracked using the unit's technology. Those assets go beyond street maps to include things like spatial data technology used in video and gaming applications, the report said.

Companies are looking to add better and more precise location technology to their own applications and services and do not want to be reliant on Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) or Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) data alone.

The car companies are reportedly favored by Nokia and they want the technology in part because the vast majority of the automotive market already uses Nokia's mapping technology in their vehicles. One unnamed source told TechCrunch that if the European automakers lose out to an international group they might appeal to European regulators to potentially halt the sale, because it would affect such a large number of large European companies

Chinese search engine Baidu and ride-scheduling service Uber are also reportedly bidding together. Uber wants the technology to improve its own service while Baidu could use the technology to expand its mapping efforts, just as Google did a decade ago.

Navinfo, a large mapping company, has said it is bidding for HERE. The company could use HERE to expand its business beyond China, and likely will bid with Chinese mobile and Internet company Tencent.

Facebook started using HERE's technology in some of its mobile applications in May and could be a bidder as it looks to improve the mapping and location technology of its own services and potentially serve as platform developers can use to add in a social layer to their own apps. Apple has not come up much in the discussions, but the ultra-secretive company has the cash and interest in improving its own native mapping service, the report noted. 

For more:
- see this TechCrunch article

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