Inside Secure Reportedly Hires Banks for Planned IPO

France-based NFC chip supplier Inside Secure has reportedly hired two investment banks to help it prepare for an initial public offering.

The report, by Reuters, citing unnamed sources, said Inside has hired BNP Paribas and Jefferies to prepare for an IPO in Paris, seeking to raise about €100 million (US$143.9 million).

Inside told NFC Times it declines to comment on what it called rumors of plans for an IPO.

But as NFC Times reported earlier, Inside is ripe for an IPO to take advantage of exploding interest in NFC and the need to remain competitive with larger rivals.

Inside, which also makes chips for contactless cards, is one of two semiconductor suppliers believed to be shipping NFC chips in volume, though others are gearing up.

It has already netted a large order from Research in Motion for RIM’s planned rollout of NFC-enabled BlackBerry phones, and is seeking to loosen the grip of chief rival NXP Semiconductors on early NFC business from Google and Android smartphone makers, as well as Nokia.

Inside bought the smart card chip unit of U.S.-based Atmel last year, paying a base price of $32 million for the much larger Atmel business, which had revenue of roughly $100 million in 2010. The deal, which closed last September, called for Inside to pay up to $21 million more if the Atmel unit meets certain financial targets in 2010 and 2011, though Inside won’t have to pay the full $21 million.

Inside has not yet released its 2010 revenue and profit and loss figures, but NFC Times has learned the company more than doubled sales of €28.8 million (US$36 million) in 2009, a year in which the company was hit hard by the financial crisis in the banking industry. The 2010 revenue estimate does not include additional sales from the Atmel business. Inside cut losses of €9.6 million in 2009 by roughly two-thirds, also not including the Atmel business.

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