Epiris, a private-equity group based in the United Kingdom (UK), has purchased Sepura, a critical-communications supplier headquartered in the UK that was purchased by China-based Hytera Communications five years ago. The acquisition does not include former Sepura-owned assets Teltronic and PowerTrunk.
“Sepura is in a unique position,” Epiris partner Ian Wood said in a prepared statement. “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.”
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a Sepura press release today stated that Steve Barber will continue as Sepura’s CEO, and Malcolm Miller—someone who previously worked with Epiris while serving as chairman of Audiotonix—will become Sepura’s nonexecutive chairman.
Cambridge-based Sepura was acquired by Hytera Communication for $92 million cash in a deal that closed in 2017. However, Sepura’s operations in the UK were somewhat independent of Hytera, in part to comply with security requirements associated with the UK government—for example, contracts with the Home Office for TETRA handsets that could be used on the nationwide Airwave public-safety LMR network.
Hytera allowing Sepura this level of autonomy meant that Sepura was not subjected to some of measures taken against Hytera, including a court order to freeze Hytera’s UK assets in 2020 that ultimately was lifted. But being owned by Hytera could create issues for potential customers that are scrutinizing purchases from China-owned businesses for security and geopolitical reasons.
Now owned by UK-based Epiris, such complications should not be a problem for Sepura—something noted by CEO Barber.
“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,” Barber said in a prepared statement. “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 [intellectual property]—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.”
When Hytera paid $92 million to buy Sepura in 2017, Sepura was struggling financially at the time. Sepura’s stock price had dropped 90% just a year after purchasing Spain-based TETRA vendor Teltronic—a company that does business as PowerTrunk in North America—for $139.6 million in 2015.
Although Teltronic and PowerTrunk used to be part of Sepura, these two companies were not included of the Epiris purchase announced today, PowerTrunk CEO Jose Martin clarified in a e-mail response to IWCE’s Urgent Communications.
“PowerTrunk and its parent, Spain-based Teltronic, are not part of the Sepura package and therefore will stay in the Hytera group of companies,” according to Martin’s e-mail. “PowerTrunk will continue doing business as usual in cooperation with Sepura through the existing agreements between both companies”.