UK telecoms giant Vodafone is to acquire Italian smart car technology services firm Cobra Automotive Technologies for €145m (£115.5m), as it bids to exploit the Internet of Things market.
The global Internet of Things market involves connecting devices including commonly used products such as smartphones, tablets and laptops with the likes of smart appliances, smart cars and smart thermostats. New types of devices within the market are being introduced all the time, featuring both consumer-friendly products for those on the move or at home and enterprise products for IT decision makers to implement at work.
A recent IDC study forecast that the market would hit $7.1tr by 2020.
Cobra is a provider of security and telematics solutions to the automotive and insurance industries including usage-based insurance and vehicle tracking. It has a global presence, with operations in Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland and the UK.
Vodafone claimed that Cobra's products and expertise will enable the telecoms company to "provide a more comprehensive range of end-to-end services to automotive customers".
Erik Brenneis, director of M2M at Vodafone, said that the combination of Vodafone and Cobra "will create a new global provider of connected car services".
"We plan to invest in the business to offer our automotive and insurance customers a full range of telematics services".
The telecoms firm has offered Cobra €1.49 per share in cash, and has formed an agreement with the main shareholders of Cobra. It has also entered into an agreement with some minority shareholders of Cobra's Telematics subsidiary to acquire their 20 per cent shareholding for a consideration of €20m (£16m).
A formal offer is likely to made in the coming weeks, and will be conditional on obtaining appropriate anti-trust approvals. It is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2014.
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