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Swiss GNSS Manufacturer u-blox Is Going Public

October 17, 2007
Inside GNSS, Fall 2007

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Ten-year-old u-blox AG has launched its initial public offering (IPO) of stock, which will begin trading October 26 on the Swiss Exchange. Price range for the offered shares is between 42 and 54 Swiss francs (CHF: US$35.53 and $45.68).

Founded in 1997 and based in Thalwil, Switzerland, u-blox (formerly µ-blox, pronounced mu-blox, using the Greek letter for one-millionth) offers a series of OEM GPS and Galileo-ready OEM products (chips, modules, and boards) for positioning and timing applications, as well as GPS/dead reckoning modules and active antennas. Thomas Seiler has served as CEO of the company since 2002.

u-blox’s current generation of chipsets and modules, u-blox 5, were launched in 2007 and are manufactured by several Asian foundries, Chartered Semiconductor, Singapore; TSMC, Taiwan; and Amkor, The Philippines. The chipset for earlier u-blox ANTARIS and ANTARIS 4 positioning engines introduced beginning in 2004 is manufactured by Atmel. (The ANTARIS line is being phased out.) u-blox modules are fabricated by Flextronics, Corporation, based in Singapore.

In 2006, the company introduced a long-term GPS orbit prediction service called AssistNow, designed to improve GPS acquisition performance by providing data such as satellite ephemerides, almanac, accurate time, and satellite status to GPS receivers via mobile telecommunications networks or the Internet.

Some 2,657,981 shares will be offered in the IPO — 1,250,000 as newly issued shares and the remainder sold by existing stockholders. If the shares are sold in the projected price range, the capitalization for the company would fall between CHF262.2 million (US$221.6 million) and CHF337.1 million (US$284.95 million).

In fiscal year 2006, u-blox reported sales of CHF54.4 million (US$46.2 million) and a net profit of CHF7.4 million (US$6.3 million). For the six months ended June 30, 2007, the company recorded sales of CHF39.4 million (US$33.5 million), up 69 percent from the year-earlier period. The company says it will use the net proceeds from its stock offering to implement its growth strategy and further expand its market position.

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