Aether buys provider of finance data in Europe

Owings Mills high tech pays $85 million for IFX

Wireless communications

April 07, 2000|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Aether Systems Inc., the Owings Mills developer of wireless communications services, said yesterday that it acquired one of Europe's largest providers of financial data to "smart phone," pagers and other wireless devices for $85 million.

The cash deal for IFX Group PLC gains Aether a further foothold in the growing market for wireless information services in Europe, said Brian Keane, vice president for Aether.

The acquisition was driven in part by Aether's interest in technology that IFX is developing to improve data delivery over a new generation of high-speed digital networks being rolled out across Western Europe, said Keane.

"There is significant penetration of smart phone use in Europe," said Keane.

"IFX has some interesting technologies for improving delivery of data to them that we really like."

Aether plans to integrate IFX into a previously announced wireless data applications and information joint venture in Europe with Reuters, recently named Sila Communications, Keane said.

Sila will be based in London with about 50 employees initially. He declined to disclose details about IFX's sales, other than to say the company is profitable.

Aether, which last year booked a net loss of $30.7 million on revenue of $6.3 million, has initially agreed to contribute $100 million to launch the venture with Reuters. Now it will contribute IFX and about $15 million in cash, said Keane.

IFX operates regional data centers in Copenhagen, Denmark; Frankfurt, Germany; Madrid, Spain; and Paris.

The company has about 10,000 subscribers.

Founded in 1992, IFX has approximately a 60 percent market share in countries where its services are available, including Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, the Benelux countries, and Scandinavia, Aether said.

Shares in Aether closed yesterday at $139.375, up $1.625.

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