Uber eyeing Nokia’s HERE mapping unit: Report

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Recent reports suggest taxi-hailing service Uber has put in a bid of around $3 billion to acquire Nokia’s HERE mapping unit.

According to a report published in the New York Times, citing unnamed sources familiar with the deal, Uber is set to snap Nokia’s mapping service dubbed Here Maps, largely seen as Google Maps’ largest competitor.

Nokia announced in April that it was considering selling Here as part of an ongoing restructuring of its business. It announced the plans after agreeing to takeover network equipment rival Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion.

As per the report, Uber is competing against a consortium of automakers, including BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz who are all vying to buy the popular mapping service. The German automakers are teaming up with the Chinese search engine Baidu on the offer. Meanwhile, a separate bid from an undisclosed private equity firm has also been submitted. The Finnish telecom giant is expected to announce its sale by the end of this month.

The Nokia Here maps business is among one of the three units that remained at Nokia after it sold its handset-making devices business to Microsoft for $7.2 billion in April last year. Based in Berlin, HERE employs about 6,000 people worldwide. The unit reported yearly revenue of $1.1bn, or less than 8% of Nokia’s total sales in 2014. The Finnish electronics company’s navigation system globally commands an 80 percent market share for in-car GPS.

Negotiations over the sale are continuing, and the talks still may not lead to a deal, people familiar with deal cautioned.

For Uber, which currently relies on the Google Maps and Apple Maps within its Android and iOS apps, owning its own mapping software would help drive its core business and offer a powerful, in-house navigation service to its drivers. Two months ago, Uber also acquired mapping company deCarta. The company is also working with Carnegie Mellon University on the Uber Advanced Technologies Center, working on mapping as well as autonomous vehicle technology.