Report: Motorola unit could be sold - East Valley Tribune: News

Report: Motorola unit could be sold

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Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 3:52 pm | Updated: 2:19 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Motorola is seeking to sell its largest division, which includes operations in Tempe, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal's Web site reported Wednesday the Schaumburg, Ill., company is looking for a buyer for its Home and Network Mobility unit, which makes equipment for cable and wireless companies.

Motorola makes cell phone infrastructure at its Tempe location, 2900 S. Diablo Way, employing about 750 people.

Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson declined to comment on the report, saying the company doesn't comment on "rumor or speculation."

Potential buyers for the division, which could be worth about $4.5 billion, include private-equity firms and makers of telecommunications equipment like Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea and Huawei Technologies Co. of China, the Journal said.

The company has two other divisions. Mobile Devices makes cell phones, and Enterprise Mobility makes police radios, bar code scanners and other equipment for government and corporate use.

The company's stated long-term plan has been to separate Mobile Devices from the other two divisions. That was originally supposed to happen this year, but the recession and the poor performance of the handset division forced Motorola to postpone that move indefinitely.

Home and Networks Mobility could be more attractive to buyers. Unlike Mobile Devices, it makes money, posting an operating profit of $199 million on sales of $2.1 billion for the third quarter.

If Motorola does sell the unit, it would be historically significant for Arizona because the Tempe operation is Motorola's last major division in the Valley. The company was once the largest private-sector employer in the Valley.

The company has spun off or sold off most of its Valley operations in the past decade, such as the government electronics unit in Scottsdale to General Dynamics, semiconductor operations in Phoenix and the East Valley to ON Semiconductor and Freescale Semiconductor, and embedded computing in Tempe to Emerson Corp.

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