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Nokia's maps unit draws further bidders: Manager Magazin

Nokia's maps business has drawn interest from at least four potential buyers including Facebook and a consortium of German carmakers BMW, Audi, and Daimler, a German magazine reported on Wednesday.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Manager Magazin also confirmed an earlier report that online taxi service Uber is looking at the books of HERE, Nokia's mapping unit, and that U.S. private equity firm Hellman & Friedman is also interested.

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According to Manager Magazin, the book value of the unit is 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion). A more bullish brokerage estimate by Inderes Equity Research values HERE at 4.4 billion to 6.9 billion euros, based on a sum-of-parts calculation.

Nokia, Facebook and Uber declined to comment on the report. Hellman & Friedman, BMW, Audi and Daimler were not immediately available for comment.

Tomi Setala | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Finland's Nokia said last week it had started a strategic review of HERE after announcing a 15.6 billion euro takeover of network equipment rival Alcatel-Lucent.

The Finnish company built its mapping and location business on the back of an $8.1 billion acquisition in 2008 of U.S-based Navteq, a maker of geographic information systems used in the automotive industry. It ranks as Nokia's largest ever deal prior to the planned Alcatel-Lucent merger.

Nokia saw adding maps to its phones as a way to differentiate its products from other high-end phone makers including Apple, which the previous year had revolutionized the market with the launch of the iPhone.

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The HERE unit, one of Nokia's three remaining businesses after the sale of its handsets unit, has in recent years refocused to supply maps to carmakers.

Location technology allows manufacturers to build navigation and safety features into newer "connnected cars," helping them to avoid obstacles and other vehicles, and is considered a pre-condition for the eventual emergence of driverless vehicles.

HERE also supplies online maps to major Internet companies including Amazon.com, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Baidu, according to Nokia.