Siemens Still Looking For Handset Buyer
By Carlo Longino, Mon Apr 25 17:30:00 GMT 2005

The company's been quiet for a while, but Siemens is still searching for somebody to buy its beleaguered handset unit. It says it could have an announcement this week, but you'd be forgiven for being skeptical.

The Siemens handset saga has dragged on for some time now, and if the past is any indicator, there's no end in sight. The company says it hopes to be "more concrete" about the fate of the business when it reports earnings on Wednesday, but given how well the company's lived up to its self-imposed deadlines in the past, a definitive announcement would come as quite a surprise.

Accompanying this is another round of "Who Doesn't Want to Buy Siemens' Handset Business?" The latest company to deny its interest is Taiwan's Acer, while today's rumors have Motorola considering a stake and Nortel in talks.

Neither potential partner really seems to make a lot of sense, with the most obvious buyer still remaining an Asian manufacturer looking to break in to the west, not an infrastructure player looking to get into the increasingly commoditized and low-margin handset business (like Nortel). Motorola makes even less sense -- why take on a loss-making rival when it's already pretty squarely beating it in the market?

All this speculation reinforces the idea that Siemens wants to sell the unit, but simply can't find a buyer, even with the cost-cutting the company's undertaken to make it more attractive. What's Siemens to do? Common sense would say every day this ordeal drags on, the asking price for the business has to fall. So does it give the business away for a token amount, or just shut it down? Siemens' technology undoubtedly has value to a number of potential buyers, perhaps their operating costs are too much of a hurdle to overcome.