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Startups to merge to form new analog chip venture

July 18, 2012 // Dylan McGrath

Startups to merge to form new analog chip venture

A pair of privately held chip startups that have taken more than $80 million in venture funding combined to date announced they would merge with a holding company to create Spectra7 Microsystems, a high-performance analog chip company for mobile infrastructure and consumer products.

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Spectra7 is expected to raise more than $10 million in equity, including investments from venture capital firms such as Celtic House Ventures Partners, EdgeStone Capital Partners and Ventures West, according to a statement issued by Redmere Technology Ltd., and Fresco Microchip Inc., the two chip startups involved. All three VC firms mentioned are existing investors in either Redmere, Fresco Micochip or both.

Redmere (Cork, Ireland) is a provider of active cable semiconductors. Fresco Microchip (Toronto) is a provider of RF, analog and digital semiconductors for consumer devices, including TVs.

The companies said Spectra7 is being formed to address the demand for more bandwidth and lower costs in mobile and internet infrastructure equipment, including handsets, tablets, base stations and microwave backhaul systems. Using technology developed by RedMere and Fresco Microchip, Spectra7 will be positioned to provide new system level analog components that will deliver unprecedented bandwidth over fiber and copper links and address the wireless bandwidth bottlenecks in the mobile internet, the companies said. The combination of both companies will result in a capital investment to date of over $80 million, a significant portfolio of patents and development centers in four countries, according to the companies.

"The mobile internet has an insatiable appetite for bandwidthgrowing almost 20 fold in the next four years, with connection speeds increasing 10 fold at the same time. As a result, smartphones, tablets and the wireless infrastructure require new analog signal processing technology." said Tony Stelliga, CEO of Redmere, who will be the CEO of Spectra7, in a statement. "Spectra7 captures this unprecedented opportunity with the unique combination of RedMere analog products, Fresco wireless technologies and a new capital structure."

Stelliga, a board member of both RedMere and Fresco Microchip, will serve as president and CEO of Sepctra7, the companies said. Stelliga was formerly chairman and CEO of Quellan, an analog chip startup acquired by Intersil Corp. in 2009. He was also the founder, chairman and CEO of Softcom Microsystems, a chip company acquired by Intel Corp. in 1999. He previously held executive positions at LSI Logic Corp. and Tundra Semiconductor Corp.

"Media, and in specific video, is the primary reason we see network congestion today, and is a real growth opportunity," said Brian Antonen, a partner at Celtic House, which backed both Redmere and Fresco Microchip. "Spectra7 will bring well-funded, best-in-class technology and experienced management to this new high growth market."

Under the terms of the agreement, Chrysalis Capital VIII Corp., a subsidiary of venture firm Chrysalis Capital Group, will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Fresco Microchip and RedMere, according to the statement. At the closing of the transaction, Chrysalis VIII will be the "resulting issuer," with each of Fresco and RedMere becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chrysalis VIII, according to the statement. The transaction is being structured to accommodate efficiencies for various legal structures, tax and accounting treatments and securities regulations, the companies said.


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