Irish private equity firm Cardinal Capital has an option to take a stake of up to 40pc in Sim Local over the next 14 months under the terms of an investment in the Irish company announced last week.
Cardinal said it was making a significant investment in Sim Local, one of the world’s largest pre-paid SIM card providers, with 300 sales points in Europe and the US.
The company had revenues of €27m in 2019 and was on track to increase this to around €50m last year before Covid 19 shut down international travel.
Cardinal is expecting that growth in this area, which stalled during the pandemic, will expand rapidly over the next 12 months with the widescale reopening of air travel.
Mike Maloney, managing director of private equity with Cardinal Capital said Sim Local has been capturing roaming customers at UK airports with local roaming packages. The company, which was founded by Killian Whelan, has formed good allia nces with the likes of WH Smith, integrating Sim Local’s tech wit h the chain’s systems.
Most business people already have roaming in their plans but travellers such as tourists, students and migrants workers can take the option of buying a sim card for a local operator which greatly reduces mobile phone costs.
“It was a very significant business pre-Covid and obviously everything shut down,” said Maloney, who had identified it for investment prior to the pandemic .
Maloney said that significant change was coming for the international Sim business as physical Sim cards will soon be replaced by a digital alternatives. Phone manufactures are supportive of this development as it will give them more space on handsets for other functions.
Maloney said Sim Local was already well poised to take advantage of this shift, whereby travellers will be about to upload a Sim card for any country they are visiting.
“In theory you be able to book your Sim profile before you land.”
Sim Local has also recently expanded into the US, which could offer significant opportunity for the business.
Cardinal capital has made a number of recent investments in the health and tech space.
It has invested in Travelwin Group, Sim Local’s parent company, through the Cardinal Ireland Partners Fund. The fund previously invested in Mowlam Healthcare, Ireland’s largest nursing-home operator and in Luzern Solutions, a leading e-commerce platform and services provider to global brands.