Vodafone set sights on connected cars with Cobra purchase

Vodafone has set its sights on acquiring Cobra Automotive Technologies for 115.6 million, paving the way for the mobile operator to expand into the connected cars market.

The Italian firm specialises in making security and telematics offerings for the motoring industry, including vehicle tracking and usage-based insurance tools.

The company operates in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, and had a reported net debt of around 38 million as of 31 March 2014.

The deal has been given the green light by Cobra's main shareholders, but still needs to win the backing of Italian lawmakers and regulators before it can go ahead.

That being said, it is expected the deal will be done and dusted by the third quarter of 2014.

Vodafone said the deal reinforces its commitment to expanding into the machine-to-machine (M2M) market, and will enable it to provide its customers with a "comprehensive range" of services to car drivers.

Erik Brenneis, director of M2M at Vodafone, added: "The combination of Vodafone and Cobra will create a new global provider of connected car services. We plan to invest in the business to offer our automotive and insurance customers a full range of telematics services."

The connected car market is increasingly becoming a crowded place, with the likes of Google, Intel and Apple already announcing moves in this area this year.

This is hardly surprising, given that trade association GSMA has previously claimed the market could be worth around 31.8 billion by 2018.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.