12.30 Update: Pace has purchased the Belfast-based Latens Systems for £28.75 million (€33.03 million) in a deal concluded in the early hours of Thursday morning. Although best known as a pioneer of cardless conditional access, Latens also has its own middleware, and gateway that allows a transition between traditional cable and IP delivery. It also has offices in Hyderabad, India, and Atlanta, United States.
The £28.75 million purchase price includes a deferred payment of £10 million, payable in 2012, and subject to a number of conditions being met.
Latens will sit within Pace’s newly formed Enterprise division that includes its international IP, gateway and networks businesses, established in September, and headed by Mark Loughran, the former MD of Nokia UK & Ireland. Pace will look to offer Latens products to some smaller customers that prefer to purchase from a single technology supplier.
Latens was formed in 2002 by a clutch of former Tandberg employees including Jeremy Thorp and Jason Rogers, who respectively became CEO and CTO. Thorp had been group managing director at NTL, where he was responsible for the design and rollout of interactive cable systems and was later CTO at Tandberg Television. Rogers, who was involved in the Cambridge interactive trials in the mid 1990s and also worked at NTL had been Tandberg’s head of architecture.
As a software-based CA company, its broadcast-centric technology comes out of the European DVB system, whereas competitors Widevine and Verimatrix are IP-based. The purchase would enable Pace to operate on both sides of the divide.
Pace, currently the number one supplier of set-top boxes, has made a series of recent acquisitions. Most notably the €351 million purchase of US gateway company 2Wire.
It is not unusual for a technology supplier with set-top boxes at its core to want to control conditional access or middleware. It is a practice operated by Motorola and Cisco, though their forerunners General Instrument and Scientific Atlanta, which Pace had looked to erode as it built up its market share in the United States.