Wolfson invests in IP with Sonaptic acquisition

Wolfson Microelectronics, an LSE-quoted supplier of semiconductors for consumer electronic products, has acquired Sonaptic, a developer of micro-acoustic technologies.

The deal values Sonaptic’s intellectual property (IP) and the continuing involvement of its founders at up to US$40.8 million (£19.8 million).

The acquirer will pay $24.8 million on completion of the deal, the bulk in cash topped up with $500,000 in Wolfson shares. A further $16 million may be payable in cash or loan notes depending on the success of products developed with the help of Sonaptic’s team. Wolfson is expecting to see revenues from such products as early as next year.

The four founders of Sonaptic, led by chief executive David Monteith, remain with the business. Other shareholders for whom the deal provides an exit include Scotland-based Pentech Ventures, which specialises in early-stage technology investments, the venture capital arm of US mobile giant Motorola, and Japanese electronic components manufacturer ROHM.

Wolfson chief executive Dave Shrigley comments: ‘Sonaptic’s technology is of keen interest to several leading consumer electronics companies. This acquisition substantially increases the size of our addressable market by increasing the number of ways Wolfson can contribute to the audio differentiation of our customers’ products.’

Sonaptic licenses its IP to manufacturers of handheld electronic products. It has been working on ways to create the illusion of three-dimensional sound from the speakers of mobile phones, game consoles and mobile audio devices.

The company is based in High Wycombe and has three subsidiaries in the USA, Japan and Korea. It employs 31 people worldwide, including 21 engineers, all of whom are expected to remain with the company following the acquisition. For the year ending December 2006, Sonaptic reported revenues of $4.4 million and losses before tax of $900,000.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

Related Topics