PE Firms Bid for Motorola’s Set Top Boxes

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. mobile phone maker Motorola Inc’s set-top box unit has generated a lot of private equity interest, with a number of major buyout firms putting in initial bids this week, sources familiar with the matter said.

Motorola is exploring a potential sale of its television set-top box and wireless networking equipment business, sources told Reuters last month. Called “home and networks mobility,” the unit had $10.1 billion in 2008 sales.

The first round expressions of interest, due Wednesday, came from private equity firms including Bain Capital, TPG Capital, Blackstone Group LP, KKR and Silver Lake Partners, the sources said.

Companies such as Arris Group Inc, a communications equipment maker, could also be interested in the unit, although they are likelier to team up with private equity firms than go it alone, the sources said. It is unclear whether Arris put in an offer.

The bids are very early stage, some of the sources cautioned. The first round was for preliminary nonbinding indications of interest, one source said. Motorola did not allow potential bidders to make joint offers in the first round, two other sources said.

Silver Lake, Blackstone, TPG, KKR, Bain, Motorola and Arris all declined to comment. (Reporting by Megan Davies and Anupreeta Das, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)