Belfast-based technology firm Aepona is sold for up to $120m
BELFAST-based telecoms software firm Aepona is being sold for as much as $120m (€92m), the Irish Independent has learned.
There has been intense speculation as to the buyer, with chip giant Intel declining to comment.
Backed by global technology groups including Canada's Blackberry telecoms group and German software giant SAP, Aepona has raised tens of millions of dollars in financial backing over the past decade from venture capital firms in Ireland and abroad. Its primary focus is cloud-based telecom network solutions.
Co-founded by Dublin entrepreneur Gilbert Little, Aepona has its roots in a firm called Aldiscon. That company was co-founded by Mr Little and another Dublin tech entrepreneur, Larry Quinn. Aldiscon was sold to UK firm Logica in 1997 for £57m (€72m). Mr Little held a 16pc stake in Aldiscon.
Prior to that sale, management had spun off a unit of Aldiscon into a company called Apion. That firm was sold in 1999 to a US company for $239m, making another fortune for Mr Little, Mr Quinn and other directors. At the time, they spun out another unit of Apion into another firm: Aepona. Mr Little remains a director of Aepona.
Calls to Aepona's marketing director, Michael Crossey; its chief executive, Allen Snyder; and chief financial officer, Michael Black, weren't returned.
The sale of Aepona will rank among the largest-ever sales of a technology firm on the island of Ireland.
In 2011, Dublin-based security software firm Norkom was sold for €217m to BAE Systems, which was among the largest-ever sales of an Irish tech business.
Aepona has raised finance from a diverse range of backers, including Dublin-based ACT Venture Capital, US-based Polaris Venture Partners – which also has a Dublin office – Sweden's Innovations Kapital and France's Innovacom. Invest NI is also a shareholder in the company.
Accounts for Dublin-based Aepona Holdings show that it generated revenue of $39.2m (€30m) in 2011, up 16pc on the previous year. It made a $1.2m (€917,000) operating profit, 70pc less than the nearly $4m (€3.1m) it made a year earlier.