CSR sells technology group and patents to Samsung in $310m deal

By Graeme Burton
17 Jul 2012 View Comments
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Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR), the pioneering UK technology company, has sold its mobile handset and location development units to Samsung for $310m (£200m) in cash. Samsung will also pay $34.4m to take a share stake in CSR.

The deal encompasses all of CSR's development operations in handset connectivity and location, including 310 staff – about one-tenth of the company's total headcount – as well as related intellectual property. That intellectual property includes 21 patents, which will be licensed back to CSR by Samsung "in perpetuity on a royalty-free basis".

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Some $285m will be returned to shareholders by CSR, while Samsung will use the newly acquired technology in future smartphones and tablet computing devices.

According to the company, the transaction will transfer to Samsung "substantially all of the resources devoted to the development of the company's handset connectivity technology and a significant proportion of the resources dedicated to the development of handset location technology".

The deal excludes, however, "CSR's existing handset connectivity and handset location products".

CSR is also granting Samsung worldwide "perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive licence of the company's intellectual property rights used in its handset connectivity and location products".

CSR is the world's 13th largest "fabless" semiconductor designer (which describes a firm which does not manufacture its own components but concentrates on design and development), with fiscal 2011 revenues of $845.2m. CSR's products include technology for Bluetooth connectivity, global positioning systems (GPS), FM broadcasting, Wi-Fi, audio, near-field communication and ARM microprocessors.

It has been squeezed in the past year due to the difficulties of two of its biggest customers – Nokia and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion – which has caused a sharp decline in revenues in handsets, part of its Mobile Business Group, from $339.1m to $278.8m.

CSR emerged from the technology boom of the late 1990s, which also saw such companies as chip designer ARM Holdings also emerge to global prominence.

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