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Garmin trumps TomTom bid for TeleAtlas

Hardware guys battling for content - plus ça change

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Satnav hardware heavyweight Garmin has gone head to head with rival TomTom in a bidding war for control of Dutch map data provider TeleAtlas.

Reuters reports that Garmin has entered the lists hoping to win the favour of TeleAtlas with an offer of €24.50 per share, topping TomTom by 15 per cent. TomTom offered €21.25/share in July.

Garmin said its offer would be launched on 4 December, just as TomTom's is set to expire, and specified that the deal was only good in the event of more than two-thirds of TeleAtlas being for sale. The US bidders said financing was lined up.

Garmin's €24.50 share price values TeleAtlas at €1.8bn in total.

The satnav/mapping market has seen consolidation recently, with Nokia (whose latest smartphones include GPS) buying Navteq - TeleAtlas' main competitor in the mapping database biz - for $8.1bn. Satnav-enabled devices are sometimes sold without any onboard map information initially, as its cost is typically more signifcant than that of the receiver hardware itself.

"A combined company will expand Garmin's ability to serve more customers... by offering a broad range of solutions," according to Garmin's statement.

Map data is available to users for free via services such as Google Maps - installable on many phones and PDAs - but this requires a data connection which can be expensive to use, intermittently available and/or slow. Such services, too, can be difficult to integrate with GPS location hardware. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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