Uber Technologies Inc., maker of the eponymous taxi-hailing app, is joining forces with Baidu Technologies Inc. and Apax Partners to bid for Nokia’s map business.
They’re up against another formidable group comprising China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd., NavInfo Co. and Swedish buyout firm EQT Partners A.B.
The deal could be worth as much as US$4 billion, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
Microsoft Corp. has offered to buy a minority stake while three United States private equity firms — Hellman & Friedman, Silver Lake Management and Thoma Bravo — are also in the running, the report said.
The next round of bids for the map unit, known as HERE, is due in two weeks.
Baidu, China’s largest search engine, is partnering with Uber, the San Francisco-based taxi challenger, to avoid regulatory scrutiny, a source said.
A group of German carmakers comprising Audi A.G., BMW A.G. and Daimler A.G. is also interested.
Nokia’s digital map business provides data to Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft and Yahoo Inc. and car-navigation systems for companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.
The potential valuation suggests Nokia’s map assets have lost value since 2008 when the company spent US$8.1 billion to buy map provider Navteq Corp.
Still, with bidders lining up, the potential value of the sale could climb. As recently as April, the company was said to be seeking more than 3 billion euros (US$3.4 billion).
Also, it has sought bids from companies Facebook Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the report said.
Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, is seeking to sell the map unit as it focuses on mobile network equipment and services to better compete with Huawei Technologies Co.
Nokia agreed to buy Alcatel-Lucent S.A. for 15.6 billion euros last month to create the world’s largest supplier of equipment that powers mobile phone networks.
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