Thales set to purchase nCipher

Internet security specialist nCipher is to be bought by defence electronics firm Thales under a £50.7m (€63.4m) deal announced today.

Internet security specialist nCipher is to be bought by defence electronics firm Thales under a £50.7m (€63.4m) deal announced today.

Thales UK – owned by the French parent group Thales – confirmed it had agreed to pay 300p a share for nCipher.

Cambridge-based nCipher, which develops “encryption” technology to ensure security of online information, first revealed takeover interest in April and has seen shares soar in recent days as speculation mounted over a bid.

The deal is set to net its founders, brothers Alex van Someren and Dr Nicko van Someren, a multi-million pound windfall.

Mr van Someren and Dr van Someren will pick up around £1.75m (€2.2m) and £1.83m (€2.3m) respectively if the deal is approved by shareholders.

The brothers have retained sizeable stakes in the business, of more than 3% each, despite stepping down from the day-to-day management of the group.

However, the Thales offer marks a significant drop from the £86m (€107.5m) nCipher had previously hoped to get in a deal with US rival SafeNet two years ago, which fell through on competition grounds.

Robert Jeens, chairman of nCipher, said today that the offer from Thales “recognises the inherent value of our technology, services and staff, as well as delivering significant value to shareholders”.

Charles Stanley analyst Ian Mitchell added that this deal was unlikely to suffer the same fate as the SafeNet planned takeover.

He said: “While the door is open to a rival bid, we consider it unlikely that one will be forthcoming and recommend holders should accept. We do not see the potential for a referral on competition grounds, as happened to the last bid for nCipher.”

nCipher employs around 180 staff at its office in Cambridge and in its international office network, including the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Thales employs 9,000 staff in the UK at offices including its headquarters in Weybridge, Surrey, and key bases in Glasgow, Bristol, Belfast, Manchester and Leicester.

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