Siemens has reportedly approached several private equity firms to gauge interest in buying its Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) joint venture.
Amongst the buyers Siemens is said to have approached are TPG, Blackstone Group and KKR & Co, according to the Wall Street Journal, which notes NSN could be worth as much as €7bn ($9.36bn) including debt if publicly listed.
A private equity buyout is just one option on the table after restrictions on the transfer of Nokia's and Siemens' interests in the joint venture expired this April.
A less likely possibility, according to the paper's sources, is that Siemens sells its stake in the venture.
Nokia meanwhile appears to want to hold on to the mobile network equipment and managed services business, which has propped up revenues and helped maintain cash levels during Nokia's shift to Windows Phone.
Last quarter NSN contributed €210m to Nokia's net cash position with revenues of €2.8bn, putting it on a par with Nokia's device and services sales of €2.88bn.
As the WSJ notes, NSN's share of Nokia's overall revenues has grown to 46 percent, compared with 30 percent when Nokia chief Stephen Elop arrived. Elop has also steered NSN's restructure, which is aiming for annual operating expense rate of €1bn less than in 2011.
According to the WSJ, Nokia has approached Finnish sovereign-wealth fund Solidium to aid a plan to buy out the Siemens stake. However, that option could be difficult if the European Commission views it as a form of state aid.
A third option, which could be likely if Siemens or Nokia fail to secure the other possibilities, is an IPO of NSN shares, which analysts believe could value the company at between €7.1 billion and €7.5bn including debt.
NSN declined to comment on the rumoured changes. ZDNet has asked Siemens for a comment, and will update the story if it receives one.