The world’s leading luxury triumvirate – BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz – have agreed to pay about 2.5 billion euros ($2.75 billion) to acquire Nokia’s mapping division Here, seen as a crucial deal on their way to develop autonomous vehicles.
Daimler AG, BMW AG and Audi AG have agreed to have an equal stake in the new business venture, known as Here, which has been the majority provider of navigation services for numerous automakers in recent years – and bidding to keep it safe in traditional automotive hands as new threats arise from Silicon Valley’s technology giants. The trio agreed to the sale for a payment of 2.5 billion euros with the enterprise value set at 2.8 billion euros, with liabilities at almost 300 million euros, said Nokia. The transaction will most likely be finalized during the first quarter of 2016. BMW, Audi and Daimler, seek ownership of the changing customer relationships that could otherwise fall into the hands of new challengers like Uber, Google and maybe even Apple.
“With the joint acquisition of HERE, we want to secure the independence of this central service for all vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and customers in other industries,” commented Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche.
Smart and high-resolution mapping systems such as the one provided by Here will most likely form the basis of connected and driverless cars that use wireless network links and could access numerous features on the spot – from recalculating a route if there is new data about jams or even avoiding a crash as it “talks” with other cars. Here has been competing with Google and Dutch navigation firm TomTom as one of the leading suppliers of high-resolution digital mapping data for the global carmakers.