Siemens Seeks Buyer for Nokia Joint Venture Network Company

Hand plugging ethernet cable into wall socket
Hand plugging ethernet cable into wall socket

Germany's Siemens A.G. (NYSE: SI) and Finland's Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) formed a 50-50 network equipment company with the catchy name of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) in 2007. Siemens is now looking for a buyer for its share of the networking venture, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal that cites people familiar with the matter.

Siemens has reportedly spoken to buyout firms TPG, Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE: BX) and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts & Co. (NYSE: KKR) about buying the entire company. As a publicly traded company, NSN could be worth as much as $9.4 billion, including debt.

The chief financial officer of Siemens has said that making networking equipment is not a business that Siemens sees itself as part of for the long haul, and that the company would like to exit this year.

Whether or not Nokia could put together an offer for the other half of NSN is questionable. But the networking venture has been good to Nokia's bottom line in the past couple of quarters, and that is not something the company can say about most of its business. Operating profit at NSN rose 200% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2012 and was up 78% sequentially. First-quarter results were lower, but still positive.

Shares of Siemens are down about 1.1% in premarket trading this morning, at $105.45 in a 52-week range of $77.88 to $113.16.

Shares of Nokia are up 3.7%, at $3.66 in a 52-week range of $1.63 to $4.90.

According to its most recent annual filing with the SEC, Nokia had $4.6 billion in cash and $8.4 billion in short-term investments at the end of 2012. Buying Siemens' share of NSN does not appear to be a good use of that liquidity. Siemens might want to see if it can interest a Chinese buyer, say, Huawei, already a competitor of NSN.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Industrials, Mergers and Buy Outs, Private Equity, Technology Companies, Telecom Tagged: BX, KKR, NOK, SI