Vodafone buys automotive specialist Cobra for M2M tech

Vodafone plans to expand machine-to-machine capabilities with automotive and telematics systems

Mobile network operator Vodafone has offered up €145m (£115m) to acquire Italian in-car security and telematics specialist Cobra Automotive Technologies.

An agreement signed with Cobra’s main shareholders will see Vodafone take control of just under 74% of Cobra’s share capital, with a further 20% stake in the business currently held by minority shareholders of Cobra’s Telematics subsidiary to be acquired for €20m conditional on completion.

Cobra specialises in a number of automotive technologies, including low-speed manoeuvre assistance systems, car alarm technology, geo-location and tracking services to aid in recovery of stolen vehicles, usage-based insurance and smart insurance services for fleet managers and insurers.

Customers include car dealers, after-market customers and manufacturers including Audi, Infiniti, Nissan, Renault and Tesla Motors. It runs service operation centres providing customer assistance in 36 European countries.

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Acquisitive Vodafone, which has its eye on expanding its machine-to-machine (M2M) capabilities beyond mere connectivity, said Cobra’s telematics solutions and wider automotive expertise would help it provide a wider range of services to automotive customers.

“The combination of Vodafone and Cobra will create a new global provider of connected car services," said Vodafone director of M2M Erik Brenneis. "We plan to invest in the business to offer our automotive and insurance customers a full range of telematics services.”

The acquisition, which is conditional on various anti-trust approvals, is expected to complete some time in the third quarter.

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