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Nokia's former maps unit, now owned by German automakers, is close to signing more investors

Facebook, Amazon or Microsoft — all customers of Here Maps — are possibilities.

Here CEO Edzard Overbeek
Here

Here, the former Nokia maps unit now owned by a consortium of three German automakers, is looking to add new investors by the end of the year, its CEO told Recode on Thursday.

The new investors will come from around the globe and are likely to include companies beyond just car makers, potentially including U.S. technology companies.

“It’s some really big names,” Here chief Edzard Overbeek said in his first U.S. interview since joining the company in March. “My focus is to get this to closure by the end of this calendar year,”

Overbeek, a former Cisco executive, said he has been traveling the globe meeting with current and prospective Here customers to see who might be right to take a stake in the company. “It’s not just financial investment we are looking for,” he said

Nokia sold Here late last year to a consortium made up of BMW, Audi and Mercedes parent Daimler. However, Overbeek said the group is committed to reducing its ownership stake to less than 45 percent.

On the technology side, the most likely investors would be one of Here’s three major customers -- Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon. Facebook, Overbeek said, is a “strong partner,” while Amazon is also looking to use Here’s technology in some of its next-generation efforts.

Microsoft, meanwhile, uses Here not only in its phones, but also to power Bing Maps.

Here’s pitch to the auto industry and beyond is that Google is looking to make money for itself, while Here is aiming to use maps and location data to build an ecosystem that can be profitable for all.

“We absolutely want to be the de facto standard for consumers and businesses to use our maps,” he said. “We will be very aggressive in opening up those maps.”

Overbeek is looking to expand Here further into areas like logistics and consumer maps, but building the high-definition maps needed for self-driving cars remains a key area of focus.

While Silicon Valley will play a role in the future of cars, he said, it need not be the case that technology companies hollow out the auto business in the way that Google has turned cellphone hardware into a largely unprofitable commodity business.

Both the tech and auto industries probably underestimate the skills the other brings to the table, he said.

But there is one point on which both industries agree: “We’re all on same page — this is probably, for the next 25 years, the biggest opportunity globally that is out there.”

Overbeek has also been working to make key hires, bringing in a new CFO and hiring former Daimler autonomous driving executive Ralf Herrtwich to run Here’s automotive business. The company is also looking to bring in a chief operating officer, he said.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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