California-based taxi company Uber is preparing for a major acquisition of Nokia’s Here Maps division, planning to pay just shy of £2 billion for the mapping service.
It is not the first acquisition for Uber, but it will be the largest. Rumours suggest that Uber is planning a £1.3 billion funding round to cover some of the costs of Here Maps.
Nokia is speaking with other potential buyers, including Chinese search engine Baidu and a consortium of German car manufacturers. A private equity firm is also in the running, however both Facebook and Google have reportedly pulled away from the acquisition citing regulation issues.
Uber has been using Google Maps for all of its services, costing the taxi service a pretty penny in licensing. Google Ventures invested in Uber last year, but the two companies have since developed a pseudo-rivalry, with Uber working on self-driving cars and Google working on a taxi service behind closed doors.
It would be a good time for Uber to move away from Google Maps and adopt its own mapping solution, allowing more control over how the mapping service works and cutting some of the licensing costs involved.
This might lead to even cheaper rides, although Uber is already forking out hefty expenses in some cities in order to get better retention rates from customers.
Uber is also planning to branch away from taxi services, by offering merchant delivery for businesses. It already offers food delivery in Barcelona and Chicago, and is testing a merchant delivery service in the US.
These two new services offer Uber drivers more ways to make money, alongside diversifying Uber’s services to make it a better sell for investors.
It has already made a mark, with rumours Uber is now valued at £32 billion, making it one of the most expensive private companies in the world.