Roman Abramovich flexes his investment muscles with £70 million Truphone deal

Chelsea Football Club owner and Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has ploughed £70 million into UK-based mobile telecoms business Truphone.

Roman Abramovich has acquired a minority stake in Truphone through a deal which sees his investment vehicle Minden inject £70 million into the firm.

The transaction values international mobile communications company Truphone at a reported £300 million and is part of a slightly larger deal including other backers worth £75 million.

Abramovich’s investment will allow Truphone to employ somewhere in the region of 500 new staff over the next year and a half. The company says that a ‘large number’ of the new positions will be in the UK. It is also planning to open businesses in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Poland, Germany and Spain during 2013.

Truphone was founded by James Tagg back in 2000 and provides SIM cards allowing customers to acquire a local number in all Truphone compatible countries. It also has a mobile recording capacity which allows users to record and store mobile communications in a ‘secure way’ for regulatory purposes.

Tagg, who now serves as chief technology officer at Truphone, also developed the touchscreens used in ticket machines at London Underground stations.

More on large investment rounds:

Steve Robertson, chief executive of Truphone, comments, ‘Our business is based on a global model, unique in mobile telecoms.

‘Staying connected is crucial to the way we live our lives – and the demand for connectivity is growing. This funding will enable us to bring the promise of a mobile phone service without international borders into new markets across the world.’

Truphone’s new £75 million round follows on from previous rounds which saw it net £12.5 million in January 2007 and £16.5 million in April 2008. Through those two transactions, the business added Straub Ventures, Wellington Partners, Eden Ventures, Burda Digital Ventures and Independent News & Media to its pool of backers.

The deal sees Abramovich join up with business partner Alexander Abramov, who he knows through his work with mining and metal group Evraz. Abramov previously held an 80 per cent stake in Truphone, an amount which will drop to 60 per cent now that the natural resources tycoon is involved.

According to Dow Jones VentureSource, the £75 million fundraising is the largest in the country since electronic-reader company Plastic Logic raised £89.7 million at the end of 2010.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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Telecoms sector