NECKARSULM, Germany -- Audi could imagine more bidders for Nokia's HERE maps business, the automaker's research and development chief, Ulrich Hackenberg, said.
"It's important to ensure free availability of the data," Hackenberg said on the sidelines of Audi's shareholder meeting in Neckarsulm, Germany on Friday. "Data management will play an important role in the future," and geographical data is particularly interesting for carmakers, he said.
Audi is working together with BMW and Daimler on an approach for the mapping business, people familiar with the matter have said.
HERE has drawn interest from a range of companies and buyout firms as a bidding war for the unit intensifies, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Uber Technologies is teaming up with Baidu Technologies and Apax Partners to pursue the unit, which may fetch as much as $4 billion, according to the people. Another group comprising China's Tencent Holdings Ltd., NavInfo Co. and Swedish buyout firm EQT Partners AB is also said to be bidding.
It's "too early to tell" if a private equity investor could join the carmaker consortium, Hackenberg said. He declined to comment further as the bidding process is still going on and talks are confidential.
Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said his company is in no hurry to sell HERE.
While declining to comment on bidders, Suri acknowledged in trade magazine European Communications that the unit had attracted "significant interest." He said the quality of the bids was better than expected. But he added: "Let's give it more time. We may not end up selling it if we don't get the right value. It has to be a good competitive deal for Nokia and our shareholders."
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report