Innovision CEO Steps Aside as Acquisition by Broadcom Moves Forward

UK-based NFC technology company Innovision announced today its CEO, David Wollen, has left the company, as the acquisition of Innovision by U.S.-based chip maker Broadcom moves forward.

Broadcom, which has supplied wireless chips for Apple’s iPhone among other smartphones, announced its intention to buy Innovision in June, saying it sees NFC as a “valuable part of its wireless connectivity portfolio alongside other technologies, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, FM and GPS."

Broadcom earlier this month announced that shareholders representing nearly 80% of Innovision’s shares had accepted its offer, which as announced, is 35 British pence (US 52 cents) per share. The cash offer, valued at a total $47.5 million, represented an 84.2% premium on Innovision’s share price. Broadcom said at the time of its announcement of its intent to buy Innovision that it expected the deal to close later this quarter. A Broadcom spokesman told NFC Times today that while conditions of the deal have been met, it will "still be a while until the acquisition is deemed final."

Innovision today said Wollen’s departure from the company was effective Friday. The company also said it would delist from the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.

Wollen joined Innovision as CEO in 2006 from Renesas Technology Europe, where he headed the Japanese chip maker’s mobile and smart card units, among others. He also represented Innovision on the board of the NFC Forum trade group. He owns .08% of Innovision’s shares.

Wollen earlier told NFC Times the company believes handset makers introducing (higher-end) NFC models starting in 2012 or 2013 will no longer put standalone NFC chips inside their devices but will opt instead for “combo chips” supporting the various wireless technologies. That would reduce the cost of embedding an NFC modem in a handset to well below 50 U.S. cents, he said.

But incorporating NFC into combo wireless chipsets is a longer-term proposition. Despite development and licensing deals Innovision notched in 2009 and 2010 with six major semiconductor suppliers, including Broadcom, the company continued to lose money–including £2.9 million (US$4.4 million) for the year ending March 31, on revenue of £2 million. Innovision also makes NFC tags.

Broadcom, which had revenue of just under $4.5 billion in 2009, reportedly supplied Bluetooth and Wi-Fi combo chips for Apple’s iPad, introduced this year, as well as a chip combining Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and FM radio for the 2009 iPhone 3GS.

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