Fargo site involved in $8B Navteq sale

Chicago-based navigation software producer Navteq Corp., with 380 employees in Fargo, has been sold to Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker.

Chicago-based navigation software producer Navteq Corp., with 380 employees in Fargo, has been sold to Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker.

Nokia, based in Stockholm, Finland, purchased Navteq on Monday for about $8.1 billion, according to the Associated Press.

Founded in Sunnyvale, Calif., as Navigation Technologies in 1985, Navteq currently employs about 3,000 people in 168 offices in 30 countries.

The company opened a division in downtown Fargo in 1996 with 16 employees. It moved to its current two-story, 60,000-square-foot digital mapping center at 1715 Gold Drive S., in 2001.

The company became publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 2004.


Dail Hassler, human resources director for the Fargo production facility, confirmed Monday that the local facility employs 380 people.

The Fargo site had 250 employees in 2006, according to a Forum story printed in April of that year.

Hassler said she first heard about the sale to Nokia on Monday at that all other comments were being channeled through a Nokia media spokesperson in New York.

Several e-mail and voicemail requests directed to Bob Richter at Richter Media for comment regarding impact of the sale on the Fargo Navteq facility were not returned.

Under the agreement approved by the boards of both companies, Nokia will pay $78 in cash for each Navteq share, including outstanding options, Nokia said Monday.

Chicago-based Navteq maintains digital maps that it licenses to global positioning systems and Web sites.

Nokia said Navteq would continue to support its existing customers as before - with the Navteq map data business continuing to operate independently - but that it would be organized as a Nokia group company.

Nokia's President and Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said "location-based services are one of the cornerstones of Nokia's Internet services strategy. The acquisition of Navteq is another step toward Nokia becoming a leading player in this space."


Helsinki-based Nokia has made several acquisitions to expand Internet services. The company announced last month that it would buy Enpocket, a U.S.-based mobile advertising company, and last year acquired Loudeye Corp. to expand its digital music offerings.

In a push to challenge rivals, including Apple Inc.'s iTunes and iPod, Nokia unveiled new Internet services and gadgets this year to help customers download music and to play games on mobile handsets.

Kallasvuo added that by acquiring Navteq, Nokia "will be able to bring context and geographical information to a number of our Internet services with accelerated time to market."

Jari Honko, an analyst at eQ Bank in Helsinki, said Nokia is "extremely driven" in its strategy to move into mobile services and called Navteq "the most significant player in its field."

"It makes a lot of sense," he said. "This is one of the areas that should become extremely important in the future. ... Nokia could very well build one of its core services around it."

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals.

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502

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