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Sepura investment boost welcomed after its acquisition by Epiris

Sepura, the Cambridge Research Park-based mobile telecoms company, has been acquired by London-based private equity group Epiris for an undisclosed sum.

Sepura CEO Steve Barber. Picture: Simon Vine Photography
Sepura CEO Steve Barber. Picture: Simon Vine Photography

The sale comes as the critical communications supplier marks its 20th anniversary, having become market leader in over 20 countries with over two million devices deployed worldwide. Its portfolio of TETRA radios and accessories is used globally by public safety users in the police, fire and ambulance services. It has also successfully expanded into the commercial space, supplying transport, mining, oil and gas, and utility companies.

The only immediate change is that Malcolm Miller, with whom Epiris previously worked as chairman of Audiotonix, will join the company as non-executive chairman.

Steve Barber said: “With a growing portfolio of world-class critical communications products and a loyal global customer base, Sepura is well positioned to continue its sustained growth.

“Epiris’ ownership will allow us to increase our investment in new products and technology, as well as expanding our reach into new markets. The strengthening of our leading portfolio of TETRA devices, as well as our emerging mission critical LTE portfolio, all based on our own IP, will spearhead our growth plans. It is a very exciting time for Sepura, our customers and our employees as we can now compete more effectively worldwide following our return to UK ownership.”

Epiris is a private equity firm with more than 25 years’ experience: its Epiris Fund II, an institutional private equity fund, was raised in 2017. Its current investments include the Big Table, operator of the Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge UK restaurant brands, Bonhams, the global auction house, and the Club Company, the UK’s largest country club operator.

Sepura radio is use. Picture: Simon Vine Photography
Sepura radio is use. Picture: Simon Vine Photography

Ian Wood, partner at Epiris, said: “Sepura is in a unique position. It combines extensive public safety knowledge with strong intellectual property and an extensive UK-based R&D capability that consistently delivers best-in-class innovative products.

“The company’s ability to develop new applications and devices that embrace emerging technologies and meet customer needs positions it to continue to succeed as a pioneer for many years to come.”

Sepura was founded in 2002: its origins are in the Pye company, founded by the instrument maker, William Pye. In 1892 Pye had joined the Cavendish Laboratory, as an instrument maker, and founded a part-time business (which later became W G. Pye and Co.) making scientific instruments in 1896.

Fast forwrd 126 years and Sepura has brought together radio infrastructure, terminals and data applications to create innovative solutions. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2007 and, in 2012, the year of its 10th anniversary, announced that it had shipped its millionth radio.

A Sepura radio in use at the Brazilian border control. Picture: MAYKE TOSCANO
A Sepura radio in use at the Brazilian border control. Picture: MAYKE TOSCANO

The company had incurred a considerable amount of debt following its $139.6m acquisition of Teltronic in 2015. Hytera Communications purchased Sepura in 2017 for $92m cash. The company has developed to become a trusted partner to public safety users and commercial customers in the professional mobile radio (PMR) market.

A Sepura spokesperson added that there will be no branding or name changes.

“The Sepura brand reflects our strong reputation,” he said, “which has been built over the past 20 years through an evolving portfolio of robust, secure products coupled with reactive, knowledgeable customer service.

“The acquisition will allow us to continue this journey, delivering products highly attuned to customer needs through extensive market knowledge and experience.

“Our HQ will be remaining in Cambridge and we are still recruiting extensively.

“Epiris is keen to support management to deliver its business plan, which expects to invest significantly in R&D as we develop the next generation of mission-critical devices.”

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