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7/2/2008
12:42 PM
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EU Approves Nokia's $8.1 Billion Acquisition Of Navteq

The addition of Navteq's location services creates an online maps powerhouse that will compete with Tom Tom and potentially the Google Android set.

Nokia's acquisition of Navteq was approved by European Union regulators Wednesday, putting the mobile phone company in a position to deliver navigation services to users of its mobile phones.

The $8.1 billion acquisition of Chicago-based Navteq was approved last December by U.S. regulators. EU regulators had previously expressed some misgivings over Nokia's acquisition of Navteq, because of arguments that the combined power of Navteq and Nokia's 40% market share of the worldwide mobile phone market might stifle competition.

However, the European Union noted the digital navigation market has another strong player in the form of Tom Tom N.V.'s Tele Atlas. Also this week, Tele Atlas signed a five-year contract with Google -- and implicitly with Google's Android Open Handset Alliance -- that will give Google access to Tele Atlas maps and content in more than 200 countries.

In a move to beef up its digital navigation and social networking offerings, Nokia days ago acquired Plazes, a German company that links users as they move about. The Plazes operation enables users to plan, record, and share their social activities using various navigation aids, including GPS location, MAC address of networks, and Wi-Fi access.

Nokia's acquisition of Navteq has bittersweet overtones for its once-strong rival Motorola. Navteq's chairman is Christopher Galvin, who formerly was CEO of Motorola until he was forced out of Motorola a few years ago. Motorola's mobile phone unit has sunk since Galvin left the company to the point that it has been for sale for months and has no takers so far.

Motorola said it wasn't interested in acquiring Navteq.

Nokia has said Navteq will continue to operate independently under its president and CEO Judson Green.

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