Mobile credit provider tops up with takeover

13 Feb 2007

Cork-based yq? International, a provider of self-service electronic top-up systems for mobile phones, has acquired Lighthouse, a company that services these machines.

In a statement, yq? International said the deal would increase its revenues by 25pc, from €80m to almost €100m. The Cork firm also said the acquisition would help grow its market share from 10pc to 15pc.

Prior to the acquisition, yq? didn’t have the staff capability to service the top-up machines but a spokesman for the company said that now it can do so instead of leaving the maintenance work to retailers in whose shops the machines are located.

The market for self-service top-up machines came about because of a decline in popularity for the traditional ways of selling prepaid mobile phone credit. Previously, shops sold credit over the counter but this created longer queues at the till. In addition, retailers were unhappy at having staff time taken up with selling items that provided little profit margin – hence the attraction for vending machines located in-store but away from the tills.

Lighthouse operates out of Dublin and the deal gives yq? a stronger presence in the Dublin market.

Yq? International said it has several new business wins in the pipeline. It is currently active in several countries throughout Europe and the Middle East, with plans to enter into Pakistan and India. Yq? international has targeted overall sales to reach between €150m and €175m by the middle of next year.

The company employed 35 people prior to the acquisition of Lighthouse. It was founded five years ago and is backed by several well-known Irish investors. Yq? plans to increase its market share through a combination of organic growth and through adding further additional digital content to its mobile top-up services. The company also claimed it has resources available to invest in research and development.

By Gordon Smith