Nokia Oyj is nearing an agreement to sell its maps business to a group of German luxury-car makers, according to people familiar with the matter.

An agreement could be reached as early as next week, with an announcement targeted for around July 31, said the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. Talks could still fall apart as the carmaker consortium of BMW AG, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG and Audi AG hammers out final details such as intellectual property rights with Nokia, the people said. Nokia has sought as much as $4 billion for the unit, called HERE, people familiar with the matter have said.

A joint purchase would be an unusual move for the German companies, which are battling for the lead in the global luxury- car market. The deal would give them access to the detailed maps that smart vehicles of the future will require.

Representatives for the carmakers and a spokesman for Espoo, Finland-based Nokia declined to comment.

The carmakers first approached Nokia about a sale, and as a key source of HERE’s revenue, they’ve had the upper hand in the competition to acquire the business. HERE supplies maps data to about 80 percent of cars with in-dash navigation systems in North America and Europe.

Other companies interested in HERE have included Apax Partners and Uber Technologies Inc., people familiar with the matter have said. HERE’s competitors include Google Inc. and TomTom NV of the Netherlands.

Self-Driving Cars

The sale would complete Nokia’s transformation into a provider of wireless-network equipment, after its exit from mobile phones in 2014. The company agreed to buy rival network maker Alcatel-Lucent SA for 15.6 billion euros ($16.9 billion) in April to better compete with Huawei Technologies Co. and Ericsson AB.

While digital maps have gained users, Nokia’s foray into the business didn’t live up to expectations. The company built its maps unit by buying Navteq Corp. for $8.1 billion in 2008, and also acquired other location-technology companies.

HERE provided mapping data for a 32-acre (13-hectare) simulated city being used to test self-driving cars in Michigan. Rival TomTom today said Robert Bosch GmbH is using its high- precision maps in automated test vehicles.

This article was written by Elisabeth Behrmann, Naomi Kresge and Adam Ewing from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Tags: gps, maps, nokia, uber
Photo Credit: In-car navigation system powered by Nokia's Here maps. Nokia