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[February 02, 2013]
Financial: Telecommunications: Abramovich pays pounds 70m for stake in Truphone
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Roman Abramovich, above, has made his largest investment in a UK company since buying Chelsea football club, taking a stake in telecoms group Truphone which values the business at pounds 300m.
Truphone's technology allows travellers in the US, the UK and Australia to use a mobile to call, text and access the web at local rates without having to change their handset or sim card.
The Russian billionaire is paying pounds 70m for a 23.3% stake. The company is led by chief executive Steve Robertson who created and ran BT's network division, Openreach, until 2011.
The funding will be used to double the headcount, employing 500 extra staff over the next 18 months, and to expand the Truphone service to the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, Spain and Poland.
"If we can make Truphone as successful as Chelsea I will be a very happy guy," said Robertson.
The investment is Abramovich's first in telecoms. Robertson said representatives of Abramovich's asset management vehicle Millhouse had tested the service extensively before committing. "They are real believers that what Truphone does and the way we are doing it can be a game-changer in the industry." Truphone was founded six years ago by James Tagg, a British inventor who developed the touchscreens used in ticket machines on London's tube. Tagg remains with the company as chief technology officer.
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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