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Monday, October 11, 1999 Published at 21:17 GMT 22:17 UK


UK: Northern Ireland

NI software producer in 150m takeover

APiON developing mobile phone access to the internet

A stake in a Northern Ireland software company has been sold in one of the province's biggest ever corporate takeovers.

The United States company, Phone.com, Inc is paying 150m for part of APiON, which employs 200 people in Belfast.

APiON evolved from a Dublin company that set up an office in Belfast four years ago.

The firm's main product is a software system that allows mobile phones to be connected to the internet.

This is one of the fastest growing areas of telecommunications and the WAP product caught the eye of Phone.com, Inc, one of America's major technology sector names.

'European market penetration'

In a statement Phone.com, Inc said: "This acquisition will greatly enhance Phone.com's ability to rapidly penetrate and service the GSM market consisting of over 300 network operators worldwide.

"APiON is a leading European WAP software supplier with commercial relationships for delivery of WAP software to 10 GSM wireless network operators including Swisscom and Sonera.

"APiON has particular expertise in GSM Intelligent Networks, wireless data, and WAP technology.

"The acquisition further increases Phone.com's strong technical and sales presence in North America, Europe and Asia.

"In connection with the acquisition, APiON shareholders will receive 1.3 million shares of Phone.com valued at approximately US$239 million as of October 8, 1999.

"The stock-for-stock transaction will be accounted for using purchase accounting. Closing is anticipated to occur prior to the end of October 1999."

Phone.com,Inc added that APiON's facilities would form the basis of Phone.com's first product development centre outside Silicon Valley and will also act as the support centre for carrier deployments in Europe.





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