Eversheds and OC join US firms as Cisco buys UK’s Ubiquisys

Eversheds and Osborne Clarke (OC) have taken the lead UK roles on networking giant Cisco’s $310m (£205m) acquisition of Swindon-based technology group Ubiquisys.


Robert Pitcher
Robert Pitcher

The deal, announced on Wednesday (3 April), sees California’s Cisco buy the provider of intelligent 3G and long-term evolution (LTE) small-cell technologies, which boosts mobile connectivity using small cells.

Small cells are miniature cellular base stations that deliver their signal over a shorter range, enabling faster mobile connections for voice and data use and a better sound quality.

The Wiltshire private company was founded in 2004 by Will Franks, who was frustrated by poor mobile coverage and high mobile costs at home.

Cisco Mobility Business Group senior vice president and general manager Kelly Ahuja explained in a statement: “Cisco is ‘doubling down’ on its small-cell business to accelerate strong momentum and growth in the mobility market.

“By acquiring Ubiquisys, we are expanding on our current mobility leadership and our end-to-end product portfolio, which includes integrated, licensed and unlicensed small-cell solutions that are tightly coupled with SON [self-optimising network], backhaul and the mobile packet core.”

Cisco was advised by Eversheds, whose team is understood to have been led by London corporate partner Robert Pitcher together with corporate principal associate Rachel Broquard, and on the US side by Fenwick & West San Francisco corporate partner Douglas Cogen.

OC led in the UK for Ubiquisys, putting forward Reading corporate partner Robert Wood at the helm of the team. The firm also acted for Ubiquisys’ major shareholders, including Advent Venture Partners.

The group’s multiple investors will reportedly pick up at least four fifths of the $310m consideration.

Ubiquisys’ US adviser was Silicon Valley corporate partner Mike Irvine of Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian.

Background to this deal:

Eversheds is a longstanding adviser to Cisco. In 2004 it was appointed as the client’s sole UK law firm ahead of previous advisers Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, DLA (now DLA Piper), legacy Herbert Smith and Weil Gotshal & Manges (8 November 2004).

Cisco recently acquired Israeli SON software provider Intucell for an estimated $475m, hiring Fenwick for advice (28 January 2013). In 2012 it acquired Israeli video software company NDS Group, instructing Fenwick and Eversheds.

Fenwick’s Cogen also guided Cisco through its acquisition earlier this year of Denver-based BroadHop, which provides next-generation policy control and service management for carrier networks.

OC’s Wood led last year for Ubiquisys on a $19m fundraising round from new investors Mobile Internet Capital and Nissay Capital, who joined existing backers including Advent, 5CCG, Sallfort Privatbank, Accel Partners, Atlas Venture and Yasuda.