Siemens looking to unload share in networking venture with Nokia, report said

Siemens has started talks with private-equity firms about the sale of its share in Nokia Siemens Networks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The German company’s 50 percent share of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) could be worth more than €7 billion ($9.3 billion) including debt. The news doesn’t come as a surprise to Gartner research director Sylvain Fabre, who in March wrote that Siemens would seek to finalize a deal this year.

The timing of Siemens’ reported efforts are good, according to Fabre. NSN has gone through a major restructuring effort that saw it shed a number of units and lay off thousands of employees to focus on mobile broadband, and the company is now seeing the results of that work, he said.

“NSN is in a very sexy state of growth, I guess, so now would be a good time to sell when the company is on a roll,” Fabre said Friday.

NSN’s future rests on it selling lots of LTE networks. Competitor Ericsson maintained its lead in the LTE infrastructure market during the fourth quarter, though NSN closed the gap between the two companies, according to Infonetics. The company is forecasting the LTE market will almost double in 2013, easily passing the $10 billion mark for the first time. Operators are in the midst of a second wave of LTE deployments, and LTE-Advanced is gearing for true 4G prime time, it said earlier this year.

Siemens said it doesn’t comment on speculation. The ownership of NSN is a topic for its parent companies, a spokeswoman at NSN said via email.

“We have simply said that we want to create a company that has the strength to be independent and thus to give our parents options. What they then choose to do is an issue solely for them. Beyond that, we won’t comment,” she said.

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