(Corrects in first paragraph to reflect NSN has been renamed Nokia Solutions and Networks from Nokia Siemens Networks)
FRANKFURT Feb 20 Finland's Nokia is considering buying U.S.-based network gear maker Juniper Networks to merge it with its unit Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), German online publication Manager Magazin Online reported, citing unnamed sources.
NSN Chief Executive Rajeev Suri travelled to the United States late last year to discuss with Juniper's management closer cooperation and a possible merger that would strengthen NSN's weak U.S. business, the online magazine said on Thursday.
Juniper has a stock market value of $13.7 billion, making it a major takeover target for Nokia, but Manager Magazin said Nokia could use Juniper's $3.1 billion cash to help finance the purchase.
A source familiar with NSN's strategy said no such deal was imminent, but analysts have said NSN and other smaller network equipment players are likely to seek M&A deals ahead as bigger players can afford more R&D spending.
Nokia, which is in the process of selling its handset business to Microsoft for $7.3 billion, declined to comment. NSN, which is already cooperating with Juniper, also declined comment.
German representatives of Juniper were not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan, Ritsuko Ando and Harro ten Wolde; Editing by David Holmes)