Thomson forays into IPTV with TBM acquisition

MUMBAI: French electronic vendor Thomson has announced an agreement to acquire the Thales Broadcast & Multimedia (TBM) business unit, which provides IPTV services (TV services over Internet Protocol), video-on-demand, mobile TV, and designs digital TV and radio broadcasting systems and equipment.

The purchase price for TBM in cash is approximately EUR 130 million, based on a normalized level of working capital requirement and no net financial indebtness. Total TBM sales for the twelve months to 30 June 2005, were EUR134.9 million, and the unit was profitable.

Taking into account the synergies, the purchase will have a neutral impact on core business earnings in the first year and be accretive thereafter. Overall, the business meets Thomson's acquisition criteria, states an official release.

Together with the announcement earlier this month that Thomson intends to acquire Canopus Co, Ltd, a Japan-based leader in high-definition desktop video-editing software, the transaction announced today completes Thomson's external initiatives linked to its Grass Valley Broadcast & Networks business.

This agreement with Thales supports key elements of the plan, which identifies electronic content distribution and the acceleration of the delivery of IP-based technologies as key growth drivers. The agreement also fits Thomson's strategic objective of broadening its client base.

In addition, the expected integration of TBM into Thomson will bring significant synergies in terms of technologies, customers, and operations. TBM's offerings combined with Thomson's systems and equipment, along with it's worldwide sales and marketing assets, will create sizeable cross-selling opportunities and foster strong relationships with common media and entertainment customers.

Through this agreement, Thomson will be able to provide cellular operators with a complete set of mobile TV solutions, from content creation to delivery-but using terrestrial television technologies that are more suited for video than cellular infrastructures.

The acquisition of TBM also puts Thomson at the center of the IPTV market, enabling it to offer everything from the software and distribution infrastructure that deliver live programming and VOD services to the set-top boxes through which users access that content.

In terms of terrestrial transmission systems and technology, TBM enjoys significant market share worldwide. With a broader range of products, Thomson will also be able to address the short-term opportunities created by the switch-off of analog TV in several major countries, which will boost demand for extension of digital terrestrial transmission (DTT), and associated transmitters, head-end equipment, and set-top-boxes.

TBM also provides data servers and advanced compression schemes for interactive applications and broadcast content regionalization such as ad and logo insertions.

IPTV services are expected to increase at a brisk pace in the coming years. Today, broadband services are available to more than 100 million households worldwide. Many of the world's telecommunications providers are exploring IPTV as a new revenue opportunity for their existing markets.

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