Economy, Auto

Uber Attempts Nokia Maps Buyout

Uber Attempts Nokia Maps BuyoutUber Attempts Nokia Maps Buyout

Ridesharing service Uber has made a $3 billion offer for Nokia's map business HERE, amid plans to raise venture capital for their own expansion, Reuters reported on Friday.

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 automakers, 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 percent on Friday are expected to announce the sale of HERE by the end of May.

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.

Both Uber and Nokia have declined to comment on the matter, however the recent move by technology companies like Google and Apple to produce self-driving cars is putting their non-traditional competitors on edge. For the German automakers who take pride in their auto-technology, new upstart technology companies like Uber and Google represent a real threat to the companies.

One of the biggest threats to the traditional auto makers plans, according to the Journal magazine, is that Google will create an open-source mapping software for self-driving cars, which would give their rivals a competitive advantage, like with smartphones.

Talks between the carmakers and Here, which makes up one of the remainder divisions of Nokia have reportedly reached advanced stages according to Forbes magazine this week.

For Baidu, China's number one search engine, the joint buy-out represents a chance for them to enter the, up till now, uncompetitive Chinese mapping sector. Google is currently banned from mapping China, and the search giant sees it as its main chance to seize on the opportunity.  

HERE already powers Baidu’s maps for regions outside China, to be used by Chinese users who travel abroad, so the two companies already have a partnership.