Bloomberg is reporting this week that Nokia Oyj is looking to sell its HERE mapping unit.The report claims that the Finnish equipment maker wants to sell HERE to focus on its wireless-networking business and improve its debt rating. Among those to whom Nokia is said by Bloomberg to have reached out are Uber, a "group of German carmakers," and private-equity firms.
Not on Bloomberg's short list: Microsoft. (Or Apple or Google, for that matter.)
Of those three, Microsoft might seem like the obvious potential buyer, given Microsoft already bought a big chunk of Nokia's business (the handset division, plus various services and patents) last year. Microsoft also ended up laying off about half of the Nokia employees that it acquired, and shuttered several former Nokia factories in the process.
Previous reports claimed Nokia also wanted Microsoft to buy the HERE division as part of the original Nokia deal, but the Redmondians declined, as it was too expensive. Instead, Microsoft ended up licensing the HERE technology for use on its Windows Phones and Windows devices. (HERE maps are also available on iOS and Android.)
I asked Microsoft officials today whether they (now) might be bidding on HERE Maps and was told the company had no comment.
If you're wondering, as I was, about the latest on the relationship between HERE and Bing Maps, here's what a Microsoft spokesperson would say:
"Bing Maps and HERE have partnered for several years. Bing Maps partners with best-in-class data providers based on geography and functionality, and HERE's data provides the basis for Bing's map content and selected map-related services in many countries."
Bloomberg reports that Nokia's HERE maps business is valued at about $2.1 billion, according to Nokia's own financial reports, which is down substantially since 2008, when Nokia bought map provider Navteq Corp. for $8.1 billion.