Sigma Wireless bought by US firm for €22m


6 Jul 2005

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Dublin-based Sigma Wireless Technologies has been acquired by a Nasdaq-listed 3G broadband player based in Chicago for a total price of €22m.

The acquisition of Sigma Wireless Technologies will give PCTEL a presence in Europe and will complete its range of radio frequency and software products. As a result, Sigma Wireless Technologies — subsidiary of the Sigma Communications Group — will become part of PCTEL’s Antenna Products Group.

The purchase consideration paid by PCTEL at the closing included €19.5m in cash and the assumption of approximately €2.5m in pension liability. The total acquisition price was €22m or approximately US$27m. The selling stockholders of Sigma Wireless Technologies may also earn up to an additional €7.5m (US$9.1m) in cash based on Sigma Wireless Technologies’ revenue performance over the 18-month period ending December 31, 2006. Transaction fees will be approximately US$1.7m.

To date PCTEL’s antenna sales have been principally in North and South America as well as China.

In addition, the acquisition positions PCTEL in the rapidly growing 3G UMTS infrastructure market with leading-edge antenna technology and associated control systems.

The new generation of cellular technology requires frequent optimisation and the ability to manage clusters of antennas. Sigma Wireless Technologies iVET (integrated Variable Electrical Tilt) antenna technology permits cellular networks to remotely adjust and optimize coverage areas and antenna clusters in response to key network performance parameters, such as signal to noise ratios. This also enables operators to adjust — using laptop computers or handheld devices — an antenna’s tilt angle.

The ability to remotely control UMTS antennas with Sigma Wireless Technologies’ Blustream antenna management system eliminates serial re-design, the costly process of gaining access to an antenna site, and shutting down transmitter sites in order to make the adjustments. Operators anticipate that iVET deployment will result in both improved quality of service and lower costs. These products are being deployed within some of Europe’s largest cellular networks.

“The iVET antenna technology gives PCTEL a strong position in the rapidly growing 3G cellular broadband market, an important target for our company,” said Marty Singer, PCTEL’s chairman and CEO. “We believe in pervasive wireless broadband and we are now in a better position to compete in that space.

“We are also excited about establishing a stronger European sales presence, expanding our revenue base, and taking the next step in our continued efforts to build a formidable wireless company. First and foremost, though, we view this as an important technology acquisition,” added Singer.

Joe Moore, Sigma Wireless Technologies’ current general manager, will continue in that capacity. Moore will also serve as PCTEL’s vice-president of European Operations.

Sigma Wireless Technologies is a subsidiary of the Sigma Communications Group, which includes Sigma Communications Systems and Sigma Telecom. Sigma Communications Group chief executive Tony Boyle said the acquisition offered the best prospects for the global development of the company. He commented: “We are delighted that our significant investment in research and development will lead to the worldwide exploitation of the innovative technology we developed here.”

By John Kennedy