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Business

Uber offers billions for Nokia's Here maps

The controversial cab-hailling service has thrown its hat in the ring as the fight for Nokia's mapping service heats up. But the competition is fierce, with companies from Munich to Silicon Valley vying for a takeover.

Uber has joined the bidding war for Finnish telecom giant Nokia's digital mapping service, Here, according to a report by The New York Times.

The ride-sharing company was reportedly looking to snap up Google Maps' main competitor for "as much as $3 billion" (2.67 billion euros), the daily wrote late on Thursday, citing unnamed people in the know.

While Google Maps has become the go-to mapping service online, some 80 percent of drivers rely on Here's built-in navigation system to get from point A to point B, according to the Times.

But Uber is facing some tough competition from some of Germany's Big Three, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which are testing self-driving vehicles that use Here's technology to navigate streets. Facebook and Microsoft are also said to be mulling a bid.

Watch video 05:04

Self-Driving Cars

The German automakers are receiving financial and technological backing from Chinese search engine Baidu, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week. This cooperation would give the German luxury automakers a leg up on the world's biggest car market, as Baidu is developing a high definition map of China. The Communist government in Beijing has banned Google from doing the same.

Uber has mostly made headlines for its controversial cab-hailing service, which operates in over 40 countries worldwide. But over the past years, the company has also been

banned in several cities

, including in Germany, amid protests from local taxi operators.

Acquiring Here, analysts say, would allow Uber to expand its other services, such as Uber Pool, which pairs riders with drivers.

Nokia last month announced plans to sell off its maps business as part of a

major overhaul of its business.

Here grossed $1.1 billion last year, or less than 8 percent of Nokia's total sales, according to the New York Times.

Nokia is expected to declare the winner of the bidding war by the end of May.

pad/hg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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