Stockholm: Nokia Oyj is considering combining its networks division with Juniper Networks Inc, Manager Magazin reported, citing people familiar with the situation whom it didn’t identify.

Rajeev Suri, head of the Nokia Solutions and Networks unit, traveled to US to meet with Juniper’s management at the end of last year, the magazine reported. Nokia wants to deepen its sales cooperation with Sunnyvale, California-based Juniper and a merger could be an alternative to a deal with Alcatel-Lucent SA, the magazine said.

A takeover of Juniper was discussed by Nokia’s board earlier this year, Manager Magazin said. Nokia would need to offer a premium to Juniper’s market value of about $14 billion to tap into Juniper’s $3.1 billion cash reserves, it said.

James Etheridge, a Nokia spokesman, and Rebecca Cradick, a spokeswoman for Juniper, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The NSN unit is set to account for more than 90% of Nokia’s revenue after the company completes the sale of its mobile-phone division to Microsoft Corp NSN sales are falling amid Chinese competition and last month Nokia predicted shrinking profit margins for the business.

Nokia shares rose 1.5% to €5.38 at 12:37 pm in Helsinki, valuing the company at €20 billion ($27 billion).

Microsoft deal

Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, ended the fourth quarter with €9 billion in gross cash and is set to receive €5.44 billion as part of the Microsoft deal. Nokia has said that it expects to complete the transaction this quarter.

Chairman Risto Siilasmaa, evaluating candidates to succeed Stephen Elop as CEO, needs to balance shareholder demand for cash rewards with the company’s growth ambitions. Too generous dividends would risk leaving Nokia with insufficient funds for investments and takeovers as it builds a future without the mobile-phone business that made it famous.

Suri is among applicants for the CEO job, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News last month. Chief financial officer Timo Ihamuotila has also been considered, said one of the people. BLOOMBERG