Business in Brief: February 2

Corning buys Israeli firm MobileAccess; Viola, Pitango win on MobileAccess sale; Electric-car policy sparks monopoly fears.

electric car 311 (photo credit: Better Place)
electric car 311
(photo credit: Better Place)
Corning buys Israeli firm MobileAccess
Corning Inc. has acquired Israeli wireless network solutions developer MobileAccess Ltd. Corning did not disclose the terms of the agreement, the price tag is said to be $150 million to $200m., people familiar with the matter told Globes Tuesday.
MobileAccess, formerly Foxcom Wireless, was founded in 1998 as a spinoff of OnePath and subsequently raised $60m. The company develops distributed antenna system (DAS) solutions for wireless telecommunications coverage inside buildings. The company’s customers include AT&T Inc., Verizon Corporation and Deutsche Telekom AG, as well as financial and other corporations. The company reportedly had $30m.-$40m. revenue in 2010.
This is the first acquisition of an Israeli company by Corning, which has a market cap of $34 billion. Beneficiaries of the acquisition include investors Genesis Partners, Pitango Venture Capital, Poalim Ventures and Eurofund. Poalim Ventures and Eurofund do not manage active venture-capital funds. Viola Private Equity was the last investor in MobileAccess, investing $8m. a year ago.
Viola, Pitango win on MobileAccess sale
There are winners and losers from the sale of MobileAccess Ltd. to Corning Inc. MobileAccess, which raised $73.4 million, always interested Israeli and foreign investors, but not all of them will report a success exit from the sale. MobileAccess did not always find it easy to raise capital, and it held eight financing round. Most of them, except for the first, totaled at least $10m., and by now it is difficult to figure out the precise holdings of each of the investors.
The losers are clear: They are the venture-capital funds that did not stay the course to the exit, including Apax Partners, Genesis Partners and Eurofund (which no longer has an active fund).
The winners are also clear: The most prominent is Viola Private Equity, which is making its first-ever exit. It participated in MobileAccess’s last financing round, putting up $8.5m. of the $15.5m. raised. Viola will likely make a return of several hundred percent on its investment. Viola Private Equity is part of Viola Group, which manages almost $2 billion. Viola Private Equity’s partners are Harel Beit-On, Jonathan Kolber, Osnat Ronen and Sami Totah.
Pitango is the second big winner, and MobileAccess is its third exit in the past 14 months, after the acquisition of Dune Networks Ltd. for $180m. by Broadcom Corporation in November 2009 and the acquisition of Convergin Ltd. by Oracle Corporation for $85m. in February 2010.
Electric-car policy sparks monopoly fears
The National Infrastructures Ministry has received dozens of objections to the principles of its electric-car policy presented for public hearing in December. Some of the objections say the regulations will perpetuate the monopoly of the players who enter the market first, most notably Better Place, and create too high a threshold for new players entering the market in the future.
The end of January was the final day for presenting objections, and the ministry received criticisms, research and legal opinions from private companies, car importers and potential importers, the Vehicle importers Association, energy companies and research institutes, people familiar with the matter told Globes Tuesday.
The objections oppose most of the principles of the plan, including the ministry’s idea for “managed charging,” which will separate the price of electricity, the car owner and the price on the national grid. The ministry will obligate “charger suppliers” to receive a license. The Israel Electric Corporation will have far-reaching authorization regarding services and pricing.