Nokia and Siemens are letting two private equity consortia look at the books of Nokia Siemens Networks as they try to sell the joint venture, three people familiar with the matter said.
The consortia are The Gores Group with Platinum Equity, and TPG with KKR, the people said on Tuesday.
It is not yet clear which parts of NSN any buyer would take over. The business still has to be restructured, one of the people said.
Siemens wants to avoid being pilloried for any job losses resulting from a change of ownership, as happened when its former mobile phones unit filed for insolvency after being sold to Taiwanese group BenQ in 2005.
It is known that there have been talks, but we do not comment on them in any way, a spokeswoman for NSN said.
Siemens was not available for comment.
NSN, which just bought Motorola Solutions' mobile gear unit for $975 million, has struggled to make a profit since its 2007 start amid falling operator spending and fierce pricing from rivals Huawei and Ericsson.
Sources told Reuters last year Nokia and Siemens initially invited four or five potential private equity buyers into the process.
Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop said on May 3 there were no immediate plans to divest NSN. Siemens chief executive Peter Loescher said a day later the company was continuing to look for possibilities for NSN.
(Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Nicola Leske; Additional reporting by Terhi Kinnunen and Jens Hack; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Dan Lalor)