Garmin tops TomTom offer for Tele Atlas

Garmin, satellite navigation device maker has launched a 2.3 billion (1.6 billion) takeover offer for digital map maker Tele Atlas, trumping an earlier 1.8 billion (1.25 billion) offer from rival and market leader TomTom.

Garmin's offer is the latest in a string of personal navigation industry buyout attempts.

IT PRO reported in early October that mobile phone maker Nokia had agreed a $8.1 billion (3.9 billion) takeover of navigation software creator Navteq, following TomTom's bid for Tele Atlas in July.

The TomTom/Tele Atlas deal was to be completed by the end of this year, barring the arrival of a more attractive offer, such as the one from Garmin. The sat nav maker has offered 17 per share in a cash deal, a 15 per cent premium over TomTom's offer. TomTom will have the opportunity to make a subsequent bid before 8 November 2007.

"Given the high growth and rapid change the navigation market has undergone to date, we feel that now is the right time for Garmin to move ahead with this proposed combination with Tele Atlas," said Garmin chief executive Dr Min Kao.

The company was also keen to reassure current licensees of Tele Atlas maps that a Garmin takeover would not impact them. "We intend to make Tele Atlas' content available to the entire navigation market on a non-discriminatory basis," Kao added.

Tele Atlas appears positive about the counter bid. "We have notified TomTom of our intention to support and recommend Garmin's proposal, unless TomTom matches the Garmin proposal within the five business day period expiring close of business in the Netherlands on 8 November," the company said in a financial statement.

"The Tele Atlas board has carefully considered and will carefully consider the terms and conditions of each proposal taken as a whole, including all legal, financial and regulatory aspects of such proposals."