Reports: Google interested in scooping up InterDigital

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is in talks with InterDigital about possibly purchasing the wireless technology and licensing firm, according to multiple reports, a day after InterDigital said it is exploring strategic options, including a possible sale.

The reports, first in the Wall Street Journal and then in Bloomberg, did not indicate that a deal is imminent. According to the Journal report, which cited unnamed sources, Google's interest in InterDigital was prompted by Google's losing bid for Nortel Network's patent portfolio in a bankruptcy auction. A coalition of six companies, including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), won Nortel Networks' patent portfolio for $4.5 billion in a bankruptcy auction, outbidding Google and Intel. The winning consortium also included Sony and EMC Corp., the IT storage and cloud computing firm.

In turn, the Journal report said, part of InterDigital's decision to explore a sale was spurred by Google's interest. A Google spokesman declined to comment, and an InterDigital spokesman declined to comment but said the company's technology and patents would be valuable to several potential buyers, according to the Journal

InterDigital develops and licenses circuitry designs, software and wireless technologies. InterDigital's stock has a market value of $1.95 billion, and the firm holds about 8,800 patents and has about 10,000 patent applications in process around the world. InterDigital retained Evercore Partners and Barclays Capital as its financial advisers for a possible transaction, but warned the activities may not result in a deal. The company also wouldn't provide a timetable for a possible transaction.

Google's interest in InterDigital reflects its relatively thin wireless patent portfolio, which is one of the reasons it had sought Nortel's patents, many of which related to wireless, including LTE.

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

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Apple, Ericsson, RIM and others win Nortel patents for $4.5B
InterDigital, Picochip reveal combined 3G, Wi-Fi femtocell
Nokia cleared in patent dispute, InterDigital vows to continue fight

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