Garmin vs TomTom bid battle for Tele Atlas hots up

Fighting for virtual territory

In sat nav, as in other forms of consumer technology, content is king. Or at least navigation hardware providers Garmin and TomTom believe so - the bell rings today for round two of their fight to acquire map-data firm Tele Atlas.

Garmin topped TomTom's initial offer last week, but now the Financial Times reports that the Dutch firm has fought back. TomTom has now raised its bid to €30/share, up from €21.25 and beating Garmin's €24.50. At the same time, it has built up a 28 per cent stake in the firm. The new offer values Tele Atlas at €2.9bn.

"We are now well positioned to buy Tele Atlas," TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn told the FT. "We are now their biggest customer and their biggest shareholder."

Garmin and TomTom both want Tele Atlas badly, as it is the only major, global commercial map-data provider they can buy. Navteq was recently taken over by Nokia for $8.1bn. Whichever of the two sat nav makers loses the bidding war will need to buy in mapping for its products from a rival hardware provider, which is unlikely to be much fun.

Unsurprisingly, Tele Atlas shares rose above the offer price in morning trading. Shareholders evidently don't think that Garmin will roll over nicely. ®

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