Taxi service Uber has submitted a $3 billion bid for Nokia Oyj’s map business HERE, the New York Times has reported citing sources.
Finland’s Nokia said last month it had started a strategic review of HERE, a competitor to Google Maps, after announcing a planned takeover of network equipment rival Alcatel-Lucent SA.
Uber is competing against a consortium of carmakers, including BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, the newspaper said, citing people with knowledge of the offer. The German automakers are teaming up with the Chinese search engine Baidu on the offer, while a private equity firm has submitted a separate bid, the report said, adding Nokia, whose shares rose 4.6 per cent earlier, is expected to announce the sale of HERE by the end of May. Uber and Nokia declined comment.
Nokia chairman Risto Siilasmaa earlier this week told the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting there was no predetermined outcome of the review, adding the company was not a forced seller. “I’d like to stress that the review will not necessarily lead to selling of HERE. We strongly believe in the possibilities to develop HERE also as part of Nokia,” he said.
The book value of the unit is about €2 billion , but Inderes Equity Research has valued it at between €4.4 billion and €6.9 billion, based on a sum-of-the-parts calculation. “We consider a $3 billion bid as insufficient … It would not take into account HERE’s market position, growth opportunities, technologies and profit growth potential,” Inderes, which has a “reduce” rating on Nokia, said in a note to investors. “With the current growth pace brought by the car industry, we estimate that HERE will make more than €400 million of annual operating profit after two to three years.”
HERE’s sales in the first quarter rose 25 per cent from a year ago to €261 million and Nokia raised the full-year profitability outlook of the unit to an operating margin range of 9 to 12 per cent from an earlier 7 to 12 per cent.