It looks like Nokia’s $8.1 billion purchase of mapping firm Navteq might turn out better than it looked a year or so ago.
Nokia’s HERE mapping division might be worth a good bit more first thought, as rival groups looking to buy it talk up the value. According to Reuters, a group of European car companies including Mercedes, Audi and BMW are bidding against an alliance of Uber and Chinese internet titan Baidu.
According to several Reuters sources with knowledge of the negotiations, a third group, which includes Chinese mobile and Internet services firm Tencent Holdings, map maker NavInfo and Swedish buyout firm EQT Partners, is also bidding.
More on potential deal for Nokia’s HERE mapping unit
Former smartphone giant Nokia initiated a strategic review of its mapping unit a few weeks ago, leading to an auction that is pitting Internet firms such as Uber and Baidu versus car makers in a deal that could be worth $4 to 6 billion.
A Reuters financial industry source noted that private equity firm General Atlantic would probably take a 30% stake in the auto industry consortium, but that negotiations on the percentage were still ongoing.
Another source from the auto industry said that each of the three car makers was prepared to chip in $780 million, but that the percentage stakes of each auto manufacturer were also still being negotiated.
The car makers have already made an offer for an unspecified amount. But they have not heard back from Nokia and are waiting for a response before they weigh whether to top up their bid, a second auto industry source noted.
“The upper limit is basically what it would cost to build the maps through other means, by partnering with another player or going it alone, for example,” the second auto industry source said.
The source also commented that the car makers were willing to include other financial players in their consortium, but they will retain majority control of the map business in any deal. Of note, the negotiations have apparently been going on for some time, so a deal could be announced in days rather than weeks.