Google set to buy Waze for $1 billion - report

Google is in talks to acquire Israel-based GPS mobile navigation app Waze for US$1 billion (NZD $1.27 billion), local media reports.

Google's Nexus 7 tablet. Source: 1 NEWS

The Haaretz newspaper's website states that the two companies had agreed terms and were about to sign for a price "exceeding US$1billion" in cash.

"In addition, Waze's research and development centre will remain in Israel for at least three years, as will the company's CEO, Noam Bardin. Waze will retain its independent identity both as a company and as a brand," the newspaper quoted sources as saying.

Waze, which claims more than 40 million users, describes itself as an app bringing together "the world's largest community of drivers who work together to fight traffic, and save time and gas money on their daily commute".

Around 12% of the app's user's hail from the United States but it is growing in popularity in Italy and Brazil.

The company is owned by a group of local and foreign investors, including the Israeli venture capital funds Magma and Vertex.

Some US$67 million has been invested in the company since it formed in 2008 by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine, Haaretz reports.

If the deal does go ahead, Google could keep competitors such as Apple and Facebook from eroding its lead in mobile-navigation programmes.

There have been previous reports that first Apple and then Facebook wanted to buy the start up.

Facebook, aiming to bolster its own mobile strategy, offered Waze almost US$1 billion last month, two people familiar with the matter said.

Globes said that those deals fell through partly because Waze insisted that its local staff be kept on.

"Facebook had sought to fold the company into its California headquarters," Haaretz added.

Following today's Israeli media report, a Google spokesman told AFP that he would not "comment on rumour and speculation".

Waze representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.