Over the past few months, we've regaled you with the saga of Nokia
First highlighted by fellow Fool Nick Kapur at Motley Fool Stock Advisor, the story began innocently enough. Garmin archrival TomTom bid a modest 2 billion euro to acquire its preferred provider of mapping software, Tele Atlas, this summer. A few months later, things got more complicated when Nokia made its play to enter the GPS industry in a big way by buying NAVTEQ -- Garmin's favored provider. This apparently left Garmin alone and adrift, lacking anyone to sell it maps.
Instead, Garmin showed its genius. Where most investors saw mortal danger to its business model, Garmin may have seen it as an opportunity to influence its archrival into seriously overpaying for Tele Atlas. Garmin made a feint at Tele Atlas, to which TomTom responded with a raised bid, at which point Garmin gracefully exited the bidding war, leaving TomTom with its checkbook hanging open.
Today, this saga reached its denouement as TomTom announced that it likely will issue 8.16 million new shares to raise the cash needed to help pay Tele Atlas' inflated price tag of $4.2 billion. At the cost of diluting current shareholders by 7%, the equity float is expected to raise around $670 million for TomTom. Added to the cash already in the firm's coffers, this gives TomTom a $1.7 billion war chest.
Of course, buying Tele Atlas will cost another $2.2 billion. (Tele Atlas has nearly $300 million of its own cash, which will accompany the deal.) At its current rate of cash generation -- about $530 million over the last 12 months for TomTom, and $38 million for Tele Atlas -- TomTom will need at least four years to pay down this debt, if it spends its cash on nothing else.
Anyone want to bet Garmin's going to sit on its debt-free balance sheet while TomTom is busy paying the piper? I don't.
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