Vodafone to buy automotive M2M player, expand DoCoMo collaboration

UK headquartered operator Vodafone has revealed its intention to acquire Italian security and telematics solutions provide Cobra Automotive Technologies as it looks to beef up its M2M play. The deal comes on the heels of a joint announcement from Vodafone and Japanese incumbent NTT DoCoMo outlining the extension of their collaborative efforts to enterprise-focused M2M service delivery.

Cobra delivers a range of services to the automotive and insurance industries, including telematics and tracking services and usage-based insurance solutions.  The firm has operations in markets worldwide, including Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea. Vodafone said it will pay €145m ($197m) for the operation, as well as €20m for a 20 per cent holding in the firm’s telematics subsidiary held by minority investors. Cobra has €48m of debt.

Vodafone said the deal reflects its ambition to offer more than simple connectivity in the M2M space and will enable it to offer integrated services to the automotive sector.

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

The Japanese announcement was less focused and builds on an existing collaborative relationship between Vodafone And DoCoMo. “M2M is an important part of our overall strategy and its significance is growing by the day,” said Kaoru Kato, President and CEO of NTT DOCOMO.  “We are proud to announce that we are expanding our strong existing partnership with Vodafone to include M2M.”

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