LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Nokia Oyj, the maker of telecommunications equipment, favors selling its maps business to Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, although price differences remain, according to people familiar with the matter.
Nokia is aiming to pressure the group to increase its offer by continuing to entertain bids from others, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The carmakers, who are key clients for the technology and first approached the Finnish company about a sale, may hesitate to pay the as much as $4 billion being sought for the unit, known as HERE, the sources said.
Final bids are due this week for the business, which supplies maps data for about 80 percent of cars with in-dash navigation systems in North America and Europe.
Several private-equity bidders, including Apax Partners, have dropped out of the race because they believe the carmakers are the preferred bidder, the people said. Baidu, which previously teamed up with Apax and Uber Technologies, people familiar with the matter said last month, may now join the carmakers, which could help them expand the mapping business in China, one of the people said. Baidu is China's largest search engine.
Nokia is seeking to sell the mapping unit as it focuses on mobile-network equipment. It agreed to buy Alcatel-Lucent in April to create the world's largest supplier of the equipment. The company may still decide not to sell HERE, CEO Rajeev Suri told France's National Assembly this week.
The potential valuation of as much as $4 billion suggests Nokia's mapping assets have lost much of their value since 2008, when the company spent $8.1 billion to buy map provider Navteq.
Other companies that were interested in the business included a group comprising China's Tencent Holdings, NavInfo and Swedish buyout firm EQT Partners, as well as three U.S. private-equity firms: Hellman & Friedman, Silver Lake Management and Thoma Bravo, people familiar with the matter said previously. Microsoft has also considered buying a minority stake, they said.
A spokeswoman for Nokia declined to comment. Representatives for Audi, Daimler, Apax and Baidu declined to comment. BMW couldn't be immediately reached by email outside of regular business hours.