The technology business week: New €125m investment fund for SMEs, Version 1 buys UK-based IT firm


11 Nov 2013

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Rory Brooks, founder partner, MML Capital; Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD; and Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland, at the launch of the €125m First Development Capital. Photo by Gary O'Neill

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A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week, beginning with a new €125m First Development Capital fund in Ireland to invest in SMEs.

New €125m First Development Capital fund in Ireland to invest in SMEs

A new €125m investment fund, First Development Capital, is to help innovative and export-driven small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) scale up faster, reach new markets, and ultimately create homegrown jobs for Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland has made a €25m commitment to the fund, under the Irish Government’s Development Capital Scheme, to the first and final close of the fund, and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland is contributing  €75m.

The balance of the funding has been committed by Allied Irish Banks, the European Investment Fund, GoldPoint Partners, and two US subsidiaries of the Cigna Corporation.

Version 1 buys UK-based IT firm – aims to become Ireland’s first €1bn services player

Version 1 has acquired UK-based Forest Business Operations from Northern European IT services player Tieto Corporation for an undisclosed sum.

The move is the first in a series of acquisitions aimed at making Version 1 Ireland’s first €1bn services company.

Forest Business Operations develops and supports IT solutions for customers in the packaging and recycling industry.

European Commission orders second examination of Three acquisition of O2 Ireland

Three Ireland, which is owned by Hutchison Whampoa, has said the European Commission’s decision to move to a Phase 2 examination of the acquisition of O2 Ireland was not unexpected.

In June, telecoms player Telefónica agreed to sell its O2 subsidiary in Ireland to Hutchison Whampoa for €850m.

The transaction will be subject to approval from the Competition Authority of Ireland, as well as the European Commission.

Three said it has had “open and constructive” discussions with the European Commission in the first phase of the merger review process.

“It expects to continue to work closely with the Commission to obtain clearance for the acquisition,” Three said.

Twitter stock closes up 73pc – social media giant valued at US$25bn

After a frenzied day of trading on its IPO Thursday, social media giant Twitter’s stock closed at US$44.90 almost double the US$26 opening price – or 73pc up.

Twitter’s shares traded at about 22 times forecasted sales for 2014.

The closing trading price is in stark contrast with how Twitter began the day. The social media giant started with a US$26 asking price that valued the company at US$18.1bn.

It ended the day with a valuation of US$25bn.

BlackBerry gets US$1.1bn lifeline, CEO to step down

A consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings has abandoned a US$4.7bn bid to acquire smartphone maker BlackBerry following a six-week due diligence process.  

Instead, Fairfax will lead a US$1.1bn investment in BlackBerry with private investors. Fairfax itself will invest US$250m in the Canadian company.

Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry, will step down from the role. He will be replaced in the interim by John Chen, who will also be appointed executive chair of BlackBerry’s board of directors.

Alcatel-Lucent appoints Dr Marcus Weldon president of Bell Labs

Telecoms equipment giant Alcatel-Lucent has appointed Dr Marcus Weldon as president of its research arm, Bell Labs, replacing Gee Rittenhouse, who is retiring from the company to focus on other business interests.

Weldon will combine his new role with his existing role as Alcatel-Lucent’s corporate CTO. He will oversee “the acceleration and unlocking of innovation in the company”, said Michel Combes, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent.

Weldon will also be responsible for strengthening co-operation with third parties and accelerating the pace of R&D to ensure Alcatel-Lucent can respond to its customers’ challenges in an agile manner.

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