FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Germany's premium automakers Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW have teamed up with private equity firm General Atlantic to raise their chances of clinching Nokia's map unit HERE, two people familiar with the matter said.
Nokia last month started a strategic review of its maps business, setting in motion an auction process that has pitted Internet players including Uber and Baidu against automakers.
One financial industry source said on Thursday that General Atlantic would likely take a 30 percent stake in the auto industry-led consortium, but that the exact percentage had not yet been finalized and could change.
A separate source said that each of the three carmakers was prepared to chip in up to 700 million euros ($780 million) but that the percentage stakes of each manufacturer was not yet fixed.
The automakers have not heard back from Nokia and are waiting for a response before they weigh whether to top up their bid, another person said.
"The upper limit is basically what it would cost to build the maps through other means, by partnering with another player or going it alone, for example," an auto industry source said.
One of the financial industry sources said carmakers were ready to include other financial players in their consortium, but will demand they retain overall control of the map assets. There is no hard deadline for final offers but the process is at its end and could come to a head in days rather than weeks.
Nokia, Mercedes parent Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen's Audi declined to comment. General Atlantic Partners also declined to comment.
Analysts put the potential value of Nokia's HERE navigation business at 2 billion euros up to 4 billion euros.
Automotive industry players remain fairly relaxed about their chances as Nokia's HERE unit now depends on carmakers for more than 50 percent of its revenue. Automakers use HERE's maps in vehicle navigation systems and are counting on them to provide crucial context for upcoming collision-detection systems.
They believe other options exist, including turning to rival TomTom, industry sources said.
Morgan Stanley upgraded its stock rating on the Dutch navigation software company on Thursday arguing that the sale of HERE would leave TomTom as the only independent global map maker.
"We are not out of the race as far as we know and Nokia would also have something to worry about if we were," the automotive industry source said.