When Nokia announced HERE Maps was for sale it sought to generate interest from multiple buyers to drive the price up. That now appears to be happening.
Bloomberg is reporting that Uber and Baidu have teamed up, as multiple parties are now bidding for the mapping unit:
Uber Technologies Inc. is teaming up with Baidu Technologies Inc. and Apax Partners to pursue Nokia Oyj’s maps business, people with knowledge of the matter said, as a bidding war for the unit intensifies.
Another group, comprising China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd., NavInfo Co. and Swedish buyout firm EQT Partners AB, is also bidding for the unit, which may fetch as much as $4 billion, three of the people said, asking not to be identified because negotiations are private.
Microsoft Corp. has offered to buy a minority stake, while three U.S. private-equity firms — Hellman & Friedman, Silver Lake Management and Thoma Bravo — are also in the running, the people said.
Previously it was reported that Uber was making a stand-alone $3 billion bid for HERE. In addition to those mentioned above, other parties are in the running.
HERE is one of only a small number of mapping providers with global scale. HERE is the rebranded Navteq, which Nokia acquired in 2007 for more than $8 billion. Thus even at $4 billion Nokia would recover only half of what it paid for the company. But with this many parties involved it could command a higher price.
Also looking seriously at HERE is a consortium of German automakers. And Facebook could enter the bidding. The company recently entered into a deal for HERE Maps on Instagram and FB Messenger.
Apple is missing from the list of speculated buyers, in part because it already has many if not most of what HERE could offer. Over the weekend Apple made a smaller, targeted mapping acquisition of its own.
The Cupertino company confirmed that it had acquired a company called Coherent Navigation, which offers more precise GPS location by combining signals from higher and lower orbit satellites.
As Apple continues to improve location and navigation on Apple Maps the company will continue to make similar buys to firm up weak or deficient areas. I suspect the Coherent Navigation acquisition may have been triggered by complaints about location inaccuracy on the Apple Watch.
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