Nokia in talks with Apple, Alibaba and Amazon over Here Maps sale

Nokia is planning to sell of its mapping division and a handful of buyers have approached the Finnish networking giant, with bids starting as soon as next week.

In line to acquire the division are Apple, Amazon, Alibaba, Baidu, Facebook, Sirius, several German automotive manufacturers and a few holding firms.

How interested each of these companies are in the deal has not been disclosed, although for several it is a chance to get hold of one of the best mapping services currently available, alongside Nokia’s large patent portfolio.

Apple’s disastrous 2012 launch of its own mapping service may be behind the company, but it still could benefit from the offline mapping, turn by turn navigation and other Here Maps features.

Amazon and Alibaba are both looking to expand their service library. Mapping and navigation are both useful services, and may offer detailed tracking for deliveries from Amazon and Taobao or Tmall.

Facebook already works with Nokia’s Here Maps for mapping and navigation services on the social network. Acquiring the mapping service would cut the overhead for licensing each year, alongside picking up a talented group of engineers who have worked on Here Maps for four years.

Nokia’s Here Maps also power Baidu Maps worldwide. Even though the service is built by Baidu inside Mainland China, outside it utilises Nokia’s massive library of locations and navigation, for Chinese tourists travelling to new countries.

Sirius is the world’s largest satellite radio provider, adding mapping and navigation to its portfolio could be a large push into the business services market.

Nokia plans to sell Here Maps for £2 billion, but if more than one company is interested in acquiring the mapping service for more, we might see a bidding war for the division.

Apple, Facebook, Alibaba and Baidu definitely have the capital to acquire the division outright, without having to give shares to Nokia in exchange. Apple has £120 billion in spare change, meaning if a bidding war were to happen, Cupertino would undoubtedly win, although it has never been one for large acquisitions.