updated 10:37 am EST, Mon December 10, 2012
Google may also close South Korean Motorola offices
Google's makeover and restructuring of the assets it acquired when purchasing Motorola Mobility continues apace, with the search giant reportedly considering offers from two firms to purchase Motorola Home Business, which sells set-top boxes and equipment to cable providers. According to sources close to the negotiations, Google is looking to get about $2 billion for the unit, which it is selling in order to narrow Motorola's focus toward higher-end smartphones, but the deal has been complicated due to Google's desire to retain equity and the unit's patents. Meanwhile, Motorola's South Korean offices are said to be closing next year, with the company shedding about 540 jobs.
Arris Group, a Georgia-based cable equipment maker, and Pace Plc, an England-based set-top box manufacturer, are said to have put together the most attractive packages for the Motorola unit so far. Google may consider providing financing on the deal to prospective partners, as the cost of the deal would be significant and would not come without its share of difficulties. Motorola is currently engaged in patent battles with TiVo over set-top box technologies, a fact that could complicate matters for any potential buyers. Financing might also help attract buyers, sources tell Bloomberg, as the unit would face increasing competition from digital applications which accomplish much the same tasks as the hardware it manufactures.
The sale of the set-top box unit is part of Google's wider restructuring of the electronics manufacturer. Shortly after purchasing the company in May, Google announced that it would cut about 4,000 staff from Motorola, roughly 20 percent of the firm's workforce.
The closure of Motorola's South Korean offices, initially reported by ETNews, is also a part of this restructuring. About 60 staffers are being offered the chance to move into Motorola's R&T departments outside South Korea, but the remaining staff in the country will likely see their jobs cut. Motorola is said to have had much difficulty competing in the South Korean market, which is home to both Samsung and LG.