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Samsung denies rumors over Nokia's health unit

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By Baek Byung-yeul

Samsung Electronics denied a rumor that the Korean tech giant may be looking to take over Nokia Health to expand its healthcare portfolio.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, Thursday, the Korean tech giant is considered one of the four bidders for the healthcare company. The other three include Google's smart home division Nest, and the other two are French companies, the newspaper reported.

However, a Samsung official rejected the rumor, saying "we have not heard about it."

Samsung Electronics has been expanding its portfolio of healthcare products.

The Korean company had an agreement with the Dutch firm Philips last month to develop connected devices using one another's technologies.

The agreement allows users of Samsung's internet of things (IoT) platform ARTIK to connect to the Philips' HealthSuite Digital platform. This will enable healthcare application developers to achieve interoperable connected health offerings.

The wearable medical devices are worn as accessories or are embedded into clothing. With the growing awareness and preference for home healthcare, the digital healthcare sector has been regarded as a newly emerging business.

An industry analyst said the acquisition of the health device company will be good for Samsung.

"Samsung can expect synergies with its existing healthcare and wearables businesses," said Chris Park, an associate managing director of Moody's.

Nokia established its health division following the acquisition of French fitness focused device maker Withings in 2016 for 170 million euros. Nokia Health's products include a body scale, activity trackers and sleep sensors.

Since the acquisition, however, the company has not been in such good shape as the firm rolled out a relatively small number of health products.

Its chief strategy officer Kathrin Buvac recently told employees that the digital health business is simply not meeting its targets and added the company's consumer health business can grow into a significant part of Nokia as a whole.

Nokia has struggled with financial problems as the company took a write down of $164 million on its digital health business last October.

However, it remains to be seen whether Nokia Health could be sold to Samsung as the French government is pushing for the company ownership to remain in Europe.

"Sectors related to artificial intelligence, especially in the health field, are of paramount importance. To provide the best services, companies need to be at the source of the data. Withings is such a company," Le Monde quoted a source as saying.

Baek Byung-yeul


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