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Uber said to be one of the companies bidding on Nokia's Here maps business

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It's no secret that Nokia plans to sell off its Here maps business. But the question of who will end up buying it is a big one. So far, it's been suggested that potential buyers run the gamut from German automakers, all the way to social networking companies like Facebook. Now The New York Times reports that Uber has thrown its hat in the ring with a bid to snap up Here for up to $3 billion. That would be a hefty sum for the division, but just a fraction of the $8.1 billion it paid for Navteq (Here's original company name) in 2007, which would be about $9.4 billion in today's dollars.

Uber's rationale to buy its own maps is obvious

Uber's interest in the company is obvious. Maps and mapping are a core part of its business today, and are set to become an even greater part of its future. Right now it has deals with other companies for some of those maps and some location information, but a purchase of Here could bring some of that technology in-house. The company's already taken steps in that direction with the acquisition of mapping company deCarta earlier this year. Looking ahead to Uber's self-driving car project, ownership of that data could both help it develop cars that run without humans, and keep from worrying that competitors have some of the same data.

Uber is unlikely to be the only company bidding for Here. Previous reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal have named a laundry list of companies that Nokia's been pitching to buy the piece of its business. That includes Apple, Amazon, Audi AG, BMW AG, Baidu, Facebook, Harman, Mercedes-Benz, and Sirius XM. Facebook's own interest in the company also got a little more complex this week after it began using Here's maps on its mobile site and on Android devices.

Here maps

Nokia's selling off the Here unit as part of an ongoing restructuring of its business. It announced plans to sell after agreeing to spend $16.6 billion on telecoms equipment company Alcatel-Lucent last month. That deal is set to close in the first half of next year. The sale and handover of Here is expected to come much sooner, with the Times saying Nokia plans to choose a winning bid later this month.

Uber declined to comment on the report.