Tencent and NavInfo buy into Here maps and form Chinese joint venture

Car makers Audi, BMW, and Daimler are set to reduce their collective stake in Here maps by 10 percent to allow Tencent, NavInfo, and GIC to buy into the company.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Chinese technology giant Tencent, along with Beijing-based mapping company NavInfo and Singapore state-owned investment firm GIC, announced this week the trio intended to jointly take up a 10 percent share of mapping company Here, with current owners Audi, BMW, and Daimler reducing their indirect holding by the same amount.

As well as the share purchase, the companies announced the creation of a 50/50 joint venture between Here and NavInfo to provide mapping services to the Chinese market, and allow Here to use NavInfo's data.

The joint venture company is expected to focus on services for autonomous cars and operate Here's Internet of Things platform in China. Tencent said it would look into using Here's location services in its platforms.

"Our intention has been to broaden our shareholder base to reflect how location intelligence will fuel invention and expansion across different industries in all parts of the world," Here CEO Edzard Overbeek said in a statement.

"We are therefore excited to welcome NavInfo and Tencent both as strategic investors who share our vision of the future and as partners with whom we will create attractive new services for the Chinese market. We also welcome GIC as a financial investor who values the long-term prospects of the company."

The joint venture, and collaboration agreement between Tencent and Here, are subject to regulatory approval. Financial terms of the deals were not released.

Tencent and NavInfo were mentioned as part of a consortium looking to purchase Here from Nokia in 2015. After months of speculation, the mapping company was eventually picked up by German car makers Audi, BMW, and Daimler for €2.8 billion in August of that year.

Here earns most of its revenues from licensing maps and real-time traffic product to vehicle manufacturers including Toyota, Ford, Mazda, and Honda, but also counts Yahoo, Microsoft, Samsung, and SAP among its enterprise licensees.

Tencent picked up an 11 percent stake in NavInfo for 1.17 billion yuan in 2014. The Chinese technology giant funded mobile taxi-service app Didi Dache, which after a merger with Kuaidi Dache, went on to merge with Uber China in a $35 billion deal.

In June, GIC bought $500 million worth of shares in Alibaba.

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