Vodafone Group announced plans to acquire Italy-based Cobra Automotive Technologies as it looks to strengthen its hand in the M2M and connected car segments.
Cobra provides telematics, usage-based insurance and vehicle tracking technology to vehicle manufacturers, dealerships and after-market customers.
It is listed on the Milan stock exchange and has operations in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.
The proposed deal is through a voluntary tender offer of €1.49 per share in cash, valuing Cobra at €145 million. As of 31 March, Cobra had a reported net debt of €48 million.
The agreement was made with the main shareholders of Cobra who hold a combined share capital of just under 74 per cent in the company. The tender will be launched in the next couple of weeks and be subject to Italian law.
Vodafone also agreed with certain minority shareholders of the Telematics subsidiary of Cobra to acquire 20 per cent of their shareholding for €20 million on the condition of the main offer being completed.
Vodafone said the deal will enable it to “expand its machine-to-machine capability beyond connectivity”.
Erik Brenneis, Vodafone’s director of M2M, said combining the two companies “will create a new global provider of connected car services”, adding that the operator group plans to invest in the business to offer automotive and insurance customers a “full range of telematics services”.
The offer requires antitrust approvals but is expected to complete in the third-quarter.
Vodafone Group currently offers a global M2M platform to enable business customers to centrally manage M2M deployments in different regions.
In March, the operator group announced plans to supply an embedded SIM for new Volkswagen and Audi models in Europe from 2015.
The company has previous experience with M2M in the automotive sector. Two years ago Vodafone Germany unveiled a five-year deal to supply M2M connectivity for BMW cars sold domestically.