Location based services business acquires to strengthen offering – Cambridge Positioning Systems

Acuity Advisors helped a Cambridge-based technology company acquire Cambridge Positioning Systems

This is how we did it…

The opportunity to buy a business

Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) is a market leader in Bluetooth technology and had big ambitions to buy a business to add GPS functionality and location-based services to its Bluetooth semiconductor product range. Acuity Advisors successfully concluded a major acquisition on behalf of CSR to help it achieve its GPS objectives.

The business

Cambridge-based CSR is a major player and provider of multifunctional connectivity and audio platforms. Its technology portfolio includes Bluetooth, GNSS, FM, Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11), UWB and NFC. These and other technologies enable platforms that incorporate fully integrated radio, signal processing and microcontroller elements along with appropriate algorithms and software. CSR has enjoyed huge success and its Bluetooth offering has become the clear market leader in a multi-billion dollar market.

CSR’s technology has been adopted by market leaders into a wide range of mobile consumer devices such as phones, vehicle navigation and telematics systems, portable navigation devices (PNDs), wireless headsets, mobile computers, mobile internet devices, recreational devices, digital cameras and mobile gaming. CSR’s customers include industry giants such as Apple, Dell, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic, RIM, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TomTom and Toshiba

The need

CSR set itself a major challenge to extend its technological offering by adding GPS functionality. It targeted a takeover of Swedish GPS start-up NordNav but, crucially, it also needed to broaden the appeal of its handset services by introducing another technology that could pinpoint positions of handsets when traditional GPS signals were not available. So two major challenges were faced:

• Find the right corporate advisors:

CSR had no in-house corporate team to source the right type of acquisition, so needed experts who could represent it professionally and who could seamlessly blend into its corporate environment.

• Secure an acquisition that fitted CSR’s objectives:

CSR needed corporate advisors on board who knew their market and sector inside out and who could use their contacts to target the best possible acquisition.

CSR realised it needed a management team with the right sort of track record, who could also empathise with its vision and understand the ideology behind its ambitions. Acuity Advisors fitted the bill on all levels with its unique mix of experience and the fact it was already negotiating the acquisition of NordNav on behalf of CSR. Acuity’s experience in semiconductor and wireless technology and ability to inspire, chivvy and work proactively as part of the CSR management team were vital factors in CSR’s decision to hire them to broker the best deal on its behalf.

The approach

Acuity used its knowledge and experience to quickly recognise that the requirement of traditional GPS-based solutions included the need to have sight of satellites, and that performance indoors can often be poor. The Acuity team drew up a short-list of providers who offered cellular location solutions. They spotted that Cambridge Positioning Systems had a patented solution which used cellular base stations to determine the position of a handset. This would provide location-based services when traditional GPS signals were not available and would also help assist in the process of acquiring a GPS signal.

Acuity recognised that combining both GPS and cellular positioning technology would guarantee and solidify CSR’s entrance into the GPS market.

Acuity approached Cambridge Positioning Services and detailed discussions began. Acuity worked with the CSR management team to develop a comprehensive board paper outlining the business case and financial model. Acuity also set about managing due diligence and all legal, financial and technical matters.

The result

After a four-month process, Acuity secured CSR’s acquisition of CPS for $35 million. Acuity made sure everyone’s interests were carefully looked after. These included multiple venture capital investors, including CRIL, Scientific Generics, University of Cambridge, Prelude, 3i, Alta Berkley and Argo Global Capital.

Acuity also spent a huge amount of time ensuring that the acquisition of CPS fitted perfectly with NordNav, so both transactions dovetailed with each other, occurred seamlessly and could also be announced simultaneously

“I have worked with Acuity on a number of strategically significant M&A transactions at Cambridge Silicon Radio. Their industry knowledge backed up by an ability to get the job done enabled us to execute efficiently. Acuity has a demonstrable track record and has proved that it can work at many different levels within an organisation to achieve the set objectives. I recommend their work.” Paul Goodridge, CFO, Cambridge Silicon Radio

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