Report: Nokia, Siemens mull selling controlling stake in NSN

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Siemens are considering selling off a controlling stake in their infrastructure joint venture Nokia Siemens Networks as the parent companies consider partnerships with private equity firms, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The report, which cited three unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said that a 51 percent stake in the vendor could be worth $2 billion. However, the report noted that Nokia and Siemens are not actively shopping the company to prospective buyers.

Nokia and Siemens acknowledged last summer they were holding talks with interested private equity firms. The two parent companies have said that they are committed to the joint venture until 2013.

"Our parent companies have stated their commitment to Nokia Siemens Networks, whilst exploring the possibility of private equity taking a stake in the company," Nokia Siemens spokesman Ben Roome told FierceWireless. "Any other scenarios are purely speculative."

Nokia Siemens' losses have weighed down the balance sheets of its parent companies. Yet there is hope that the company's fortunes will improve--NSN's acquisition of Motorola Solutions' (NYSE:MSI) wireless networking business is expected to close at the end of April, after months of delays. That deal is expected to improve NSN's position in the U.S. as well as Japan.

The WSJ report said potential buyers are worried about NSN's outstanding pension obligation, which could total billions of dollars. "Our pension obligations are fully funded," Roome countered.

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

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