Google Said to Tap Barclays to Sell Motorola’s Home Unit

Google Inc. (GOOG) wants to sell the unit within Motorola Mobility that sells set-top boxes and other equipment to cable television providers and has hired Barclays Plc (BARC) to seek buyers, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Motorola Mobility’s Home Business unit might fetch about $2 billion and the sale is in the very early stages, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is shifting Motorola’s focus toward high-end smartphones as it competes with Apple Inc. (AAPL) This month Google announced it would cut 4,000 Motorola staff and close about a third of its 90 facilities as part of a plan to restore the hardware firm’s leadership in the mobile market. Google completed the $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility in May in its biggest takeover.

Light Reading Cable reported on Aug. 6 that Google was considering a sale of the Home Business unit. Motorola tried to sell the unit in 2009 for more than $4 billion, people close to the situation said at the time.

Kerrie Cohen, a spokeswoman for Barclays, and Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Google, declined to comment.

Google announced the deal to buy Motorola Mobility a year ago after losing out on an auction of Nortel Networks Corp. patents to a group that included Apple, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Research in Motion Ltd. which bought them for $4.5 billion. The acquisition gave Google a trove of more than 17,000 patents.

Motorola’s handsets use Google’s Android software, which the search engine provider offers at no cost to mobile-device makers. Google-powered devices accounted for 56 percent of global sales in the first three months of the year, compared with 23 percent for Apple’s iPhone, according to Gartner Inc.

Google shares rose 1.6 percent to $688.01 at the close in New York, and are up 6.5 percent so far this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Matthew Campbell in London at mcampbell39@bloomberg.net; Serena Saitto in New York at ssaitto@bloomberg.net; Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey McCracken at jmccracken3@bloomberg.net; Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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