May 8, 2015 / 7:09 AM / 2 years ago

Uber bids $3 billion for Nokia's HERE mapping service: NYT

Uber logo is seen on a smartphone in front of a displayed logo of HERE, Nokia Oyj's map business, in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in this May 8, 2015 photo illustration.Dado Ruvic

(Reuters) - Taxi service Uber has submitted a $3 billion bid for Nokia Oyj's NOK1V.HE map business HERE, the New York Times reported citing people with knowledge of the offer.

Finland's Nokia said last month it had started a strategic review of HERE, a competitor to Google (GOOGL.O) Maps, after announcing a planned takeover of network equipment rival Alcatel-Lucent SA ALUA.PA.

Uber is competing against a consortium of automakers, including BMW (BMWG.DE), Audi and Mercedes-Benz (DAIGn.DE), 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 by 0707 GMT, 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 euros ($2.2 billion), but Inderes Equity Research has valued it at between 4.4 billion euros and 6.9 billion, based on a sum-of-the-parts calculation.

"We consider a 3 billion dollar 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 euros of annual operating profit after two to three years."

HERE's sales in the first quarter rose 25 percent from a year ago to 261 million euros and Nokia raised the full-year profitability outlook of the unit to an operating margin range of 9 to 12 percent from an earlier 7 to 12 percent.

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Jussi Rosendahl in Helsinki; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and David Holmes

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