KKR, TPG withdraw from bidding for Nokia unit: report

Thu Jun 9, 2011 7:44pm EDT

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(Reuters) - U.S. private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR.N) and TPG TPG.UL have backed away from bidding for a majority stake in Nokia Siemens Networks after failing to agree on the price and level of control over the company, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The withdrawal of KKR and TPG leaves just one bidding consortium, made up of the Gores Group and Platinum Equity, in the running for the joint venture between Nokia (NOK1V.HE) and Siemens (SIEGn.DE), the paper said, citing several sources close to the matter.

Nokia Siemens Networks was not available for comment. KKR, TPG and Siemens were not immediately available for comment.

Nokia and German industrial group Siemens merged their telecom equipment businesses on a 50-50 ownership basis in 2007 in a six-year deal, hoping to quickly reach double-digit margins, but the venture has struggled to make a profit.

The companies said last August they had started negotiations with private equity firms to sell a stake in the telecom gear venture.

The news of KKR and TPG's withdrawal comes on the heels of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop denying rumors that the company -- once the undisputed global leader in mobile phones -- is for sale amid increasingly loud talk that its plunging market value has made it a target.

(Reporting by Abhishek Takle in Bangalore; Editing by Gary Hill)

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