2002-027

The Carlyle Group to Acquire Majority Stake in Sonera SmartTrust AB

London - Global private equity firm, The Carlyle Group, is leading the €35 million acquisition of a majority shareholding in Sonera SmartTrust AB, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sonera Corporation, the leading Finnish telecommunications operator. The transaction is being made through the Carlyle Europe Venture Partners fund.


Carlyle is heading a syndicate including GE Equity and EQVITEC Partners that plans to purchase a majority shareholding of SmartTrust from Sonera, who will retain a significant minority shareholding in SmartTrust. A portion of SmartTrust's shareholding will also be set aside for a new warrant based incentive program for employees, which is currently being put in place by the management team.


SmartTrust, whose 2001 revenues were €36 million, enjoys a reputation for being one of the strongest technology providers in the wireless software infrastructure and security space. SmartTrust's product offering is the result of more than five years' of excellent technical deployment experience with more than 80 mobile operator customers. Operators including Cingular Wireless, MTN, Sonofon, Telenor, Satelindo and Vodafone UK use SmartTrust technology to launch and manage enhanced mobile services and control mobile end-user applications and equipment.


"We were attracted to the business because of SmartTrust's market leadership position in fast-growing segments of the wireless software space and its reputation for being a technology-driven company with a strong customer base," said Michael Wand, director, The Carlyle Group. "We expect to help shape SmartTrust's further development by injecting our experience of growing businesses and maximising long-term value, " he said.


"Led by The Carlyle Group, the investment syndicate offers SmartTrust a strengthened ownership base, comprising experienced software and mobile industry players. Such experience is vital in expanding SmartTrust's already strong market position and developing future growth areas," explains Antti Vasara, CEO of SmartTrust. "We see this transaction as true endorsement of our value proposition; The Carlyle Group's proven approach to investment fits perfectly alongside SmartTrust's own approach to supporting our mobile operator customers through the long-term development of their own businesses."


Since the beginning of 2002, Carlyle's European venture fund has also made new investments in the following companies; Apama, a real-time business analytics software developer; Opto Speed, a designer and manufacturer of optical-electronic components; and Trema, a cash and treasury management software developer.


The transaction is due to complete within two months, subject to meeting the terms of the purchase and regulatory approvals.