FRANKFURT: Chinese mapping firm NavInfo, Internet group Tencent and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC are buying a 10% stake in digital maps company HERE, the latest in a string of Chinese acquisitions in Europe.
Germany carmakers Audi, BMW and Daimler bought HERE from Nokia for 2.55 billion euros (US$2.6bil) last year to create an alternative digital mapping business to Google.
Under the deal announced yesterday, the carmakers would reduce their combined ownership of HERE by 10%, HERE and the buyers said in a statement.
They did not disclose financial details of the deal, which they expect to close in the first half of 2017.
Intelligent mapping systems are seen as a key for self-driving cars, which are equipped with street-scanning sensors to measure traffic and road conditions. The real-time data gathered can in turn be shared with other map users.
Nokia bought the company at a time when drivers were starting to switch from navigation devices such as those made by Garmin and TomTom to using smartphones to provide directions. Nokia sold it to the German carmakers last year to focus on its telecoms equipment business.
HERE had been aiming to find new partners by the end of the year and was in discussions with dozens of possible investors, including Amazon.com, Microsoft and Bosch .
HERE said it would now form a joint venture with NavInfo to extend its products to China using NavInfo’s data and services.
Tencent will use HERE’s mapping and location platform services in its own products, both in China and internationally.
The deal comes after a string of high-profile takeover approaches in Europe, particularly in Germany, though Chinese overtures have not always been welcome. — Reuters