FTC Approves German Carmakers’ Nokia Map Purchase

On Wednesday, the U.S. FTC announced that a group German carmakers have won the approval of U.S. antitrust agencies to purchase Nokia’s HERE maps business for just over $2.8 billion.

Finland’s Nokia Corporation announced last month that it had finalized its restructuring plan with the sale of its HERE digital mapping division to a consortium of German automakers for close to $3 billion. The automaker group includes the iconic names of AUDI AG, the BMW Group and Daimler AG.

When the deal was announced, the consortium pointed out that the acquisition guarantees the availability of HERE’s products and services as an independent platform for cloud-based maps and other mobility services that will be available to all consumers. Of note, each of the partners has an equal stake in HERE, and, moreover, all committed to not seek a majority interest in the future.

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More on deal for Nokia’s HERE maps division

The HERE deal was on the FTC’s recently released list of uncontroversial transactions which have won approval from the FTC or the Justice Department this month.

Analysts have chimed in to say that acquiring HERE will permit the automakers to offer consumers new premium features such as autonomous driving in the near future, potentially shaking up the current delicate balance between car makers, parts suppliers and new technology firms such as Uber, Lyft and Google.

Google Maps is obviously HERE’s primary competitor. The digital maps technology also competes with relatively small Dutch mapping firm TomTom. HERE was developed by Nokia after its more than $8 billion merger with Navteq in 2008

Smart maps

Keep in mind that modern digital maps can do so much more than paper maps. Web-connected devices today know their location due to GPS, which means you can get directions to anywhere you want to go, or analyze traffic or pedestrian walkthrough data so that businesses or entrepreneurs can determine optimum locations for their facilities. HERE has dubbed its the benefits of its digital mapping technology “location intelligence.”

In the August 3rd Nokia blog post announcing the deal, the firm notes: “Location data is critical for a broad range of products and services and we believe that simultaneously serving these different segments with maps will result in a virtuous cycle… our strong presence in the majority of connected vehicles on the road will enable HERE to develop better services for consumer and enterprise customers. The more places we appear, the better everything gets for everyone.”