NavInfo, Tencent, GIC to buy 10% in German digital maps company HERE

Chinese digital maps and location services provider NavInfo Co., Ltd, internet services provider  Tencent Holdings Ltd and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC today struck a deal to buy a 10 per cent stake in digital maps company HERE.

In August last year, German carmakers Audi, BMW and Daimler bought HERE from Nokia for €2.55 billion ($2.6 billion) in order to offer a viable alternative to mapping services of Google and Apple (See: German auto consortium close to buying Nokia maps for $2.7 bn). The 10-per cent sale would result in Audi, BMW and Daimler reducing their indirect stake in HERE in equal measure.

The companies did not disclose financial details of the deal, but expect the transaction to close in the first half of 2017, subject to regulatory approvals.

HERE and NavInfo also announced their intention to form a 50/50 joint venture in China enabling location services for Chinese and global customers across a range of industries.

Based on this JV, HERE, a provider of maps and location services in almost 200 countries, would extend its services to China making use of a wide range of NavInfo data and services.

Tencent will explore the use of mapping and location platform services and tools from HERE in its own products and services both in China and internationally.

''Our intention has been to broaden our shareholder base to reflect how location intelligence will fuel invention and expansion across different industries in all parts of the world. We are therefore excited to welcome NavInfo and Tencent both as strategic investors who share our vision of the future and as partners with whom we will create attractive new services for the Chinese market. We also welcome GIC as a financial investor who values the long-term prospects of the company,'' said, HERE CEO, Edzard Overbeek.

NavInfo CEO, Patrick Cheng said, ''The automotive industry is on the eve of revolution to autonomous driving and alternative energy. We are excited about joining forces and uniting market leaders to deliver outstanding value and take our industry to the next level. NavInfo and HERE have a more than ten-year cooperation history, and are now both in transformation phase to extend our heritage in traditional navigation to intelligent location services and autonomous driving solutions for a global customer base.''

Tencent vice president of Mobile Internet Group, Julian Ma said, ''Combining HERE's world-leading location intelligence technologies with Tencent's social strength, unique understanding of user behaviour and broad location data ecosystem, this collaboration further enhances Tencent's location services. It also facilitates Tencent's exploration of future technologies including autonomous driving and artificial intelligence.''

HERE (formerly Ovi Maps), is a global leader in the mapping and location intelligence business offering maps for nearly 200 countries, voice guided navigation in 97 countries in more than 50 languages and live traffic information for 41 countries.

Its maps are found in four out of five cars in North America and Europe with integrated in-dash navigation. It also powers mobile devices, connected devices and enterprise.