Nokia considers major acquistion of Juniper Networks

Men are silhouetted against a video screen with an Nokia logo as he poses with an Nokia Lumia 820 and Samsung S4 smartphones in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of ZenicaNokia might have sold off its handset business to Microsoft, but the Finnish firm is still in business and now – flush with cash – is rumored to be considering the acquisition of network gear maker Juniper Networks in order to merge it with its Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) division, according to German website Manager Magazin Online.

The story was picked up by Reuters, which claims that NSN’s CEO Rajeev Suri discussed the prospective takeover with Juniper’s management at the end of last year. It’s said that the plan is for NSN to expand its weak US business through a merger of the two companies.

NSN will become Nokia’s primary business once the sale of its handset business to Microsoft goes through. That deal, valued at some $7.4 billion, is expected to close by the end of March. Henceforth, Nokia is said to be considering a number of options going forward, as part of a strategic review of its operations that’s expected to be completed at the end of next month.

Reuters reports that sources familiar with NSN’s plans said that any deal is unlikely to take place soon. Even so, analysts have said that NSN is said to be likely to pursue an M&A strategy, because the rising costs of developing infrastructure for mobile broadband makes it far more cost effective, and gives those with with larger research and development budgets a much greater advantage.

NSN and Juniper have some previous, having formed a partnership aimed at developing and selling network equipment to carriers. In addition, Nokia’s ex-CEO Stephan Elop, who’s set to rejoin Microsoft next month, previously worked as COO of Juniper from 2006 to 2007.

Reuters reports that Juniper’ stock market value lies in the region of $13.7 billion, which means that any deal would be a major gamble by Nokia. Even so, Nokia could use the $3.1 billion cash held by Juniper to finance any deal.

For now, as expected, Nokia, NSN and Juniper have all declined to comment on the matter.