Vodafone Makes Play for Wayfinder

Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone group by revenue, bids $30 million to acquire Swedish GPS software firm Wayfinder. Vodafone hopes the deal will bolster it mobile Internet offerings by providing local search, advertising and direction services.

LONDON (Reuters) - Vodafone Group Plc is to make a cash offer for a Swedish navigational software firm to help improve its mobile Internet offering by providing local search, advertising and direction services.

Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone group by revenue, has targeted growing mobile data revenues as the mobile market becomes saturated, and the acquisition of Wayfinder Systems could help it attract and keep customers.

The offer values the Swedish company at 239 million Swedish crowns ($30 million).

"The Wayfinder software enables mobile phones to display user-friendly maps as well as deliver voice directions to drivers in the same way as dedicated navigation devices," Pieter Knook, Internet Services Director at Vodafone, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Wayfinder's exceptional expertise in this space and technology capabilities will enable Vodafone to develop a suite of exciting new location-aware products and services."

Wayfinder's services are available in 19 languages.

Analyst Paolo Pescatore of CCS Insight said he expected Vodafone to offer a branded location based service.

"Vodafone sees a big opportunity in this area which will open up new avenues," he told Reuters. "I'd imagine it will be core to social networking and advertising."

Vodafone said it would offer 12 crowns per share, compared with Monday's closing price of 3.40 crowns.

Vodafone said Wayfinder's board recommended the bid, and Wayfinder shareholders, controlling some 45 percent of shares, have agreed to accept the offer.

($1=8.032 Swedish Crown)

(Reporting by London Equities newsroom and Tarmo Virki in Helsinki; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Hans Peters)

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