ACT leads €28m investment in UK chip firm


28 Feb 2005

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ACT Venture Capital has led a €28m investment round in Frontier Silicon, which is hoping to consolidate its position in the growing digital audio broadcasting (DAB) market

The lead new investor is Irish-based ACT and the round was supported by existing investors including funds advised by Apax Partners, Alta Berkeley, BlueRun Ventures and new investor Quilvest. Frontier Silicon was advised by Citigroup Global Markets in this transaction.

Frontier Silicon has successfully pioneered and helped to grow the DAB market since its inception in 2002 and recorded impressive growth. This latest funding round will enable the company to establish a leading position in the mobile digital television market and further develop its DAB products.

The company was established in 2001 and is privately funded. The ‘fabless’ chip company develops and delivers both the broadcast signal receiver modules and digital processing circuits as individual chips, and complete system modules to leading consumer electronics and mobile phone brands. Key customers include consumer electronic, automotive entertainment and PDA/mobile phone manufacturers such as Bang & Olufsen, Cambridge Audio, Goodmans, Grundig, Hitachi, Ministry of Sound, Philips, Pure Digital, Roberts Radio, Samsung, Sharp, Sony and Teac.

This month Frontier Silicon launched two new chips that enable a complete solution for receiving terrestrial digital multimedia broadcasting services on mobile phone handsets; the Apollo chip receives broadcast signals while the Kino chip provides the digital base-band processing.

The combination provides one of the world’s lowest power consumption and smallest footprint solution that will allow handset manufacturers to rapidly enable mobile operators and broadcasters to offer digital broadcast services to consumers.

Anthony Sethill, CEO and founder of Frontier Silicon, said: “This latest investment allows us to aggressively target and drive market share in the emerging mobile digital television market in the same way that we have established our chips in more than 70pc of DAB digital radios. Our launch this month of a mobile digital television chip set has been well received by key mobile handset manufacturers. This new funding will be used to expand existing and open new design centres for our future mobile digital television integrated circuit and software products. We will continue to focus on technologies targeted at the digital radio and television markets, both for the home and mobile broadcast sectors.”

Kieron Branagan, general partner at ACT Venture Capital, added: “We are very excited to be involved with Frontier Silicon at this time as the company ramps its development of digital broadcasting platforms. The management team at Frontier Silicon is uniquely positioned to leverage the significant opportunities afforded by DAB and emerging mobile digital television standards.”

By John Kennedy