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8 May, 2006 - 11:18 By Staff Reporter

Antenova secures long-term deal with another top player

Cambridge’s Antenova has landed a major deal to supply one of the world’s leading laptop manufacturers with its patented High Dielectric Antenna (HDA™) technology.

Details of the arrangement were not released, although Antenova did say it was likely to outperform its recently announced deal with Flextronics, a Singapore Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) contractor which builds phones for around 20 per cent of the world’s mobile handset manufacturers.

Like the Flextronics deal, the new contract stretches over several years, giving Antenova the financial stability to continue the growth of the company and taking the pressure off its investors to look for a premature exit.

Instead Antenova will concentrate on landing further deals, growing staff and expanding its Cambridge facilities to cope with the extra headcount and its growing research and development needs.

Speaking from Chicago where Antenova may establish its US headquarters, the company’s chief executive, Greg McCray, said: “We are still looking at a float, possibly a sell, but following recent deals our investors have much more confidence in the company’s technology focus and its position in the industry and do not want to sell out too short.

“The Flextronics deal is one of the Antenova’s largest to date, but we have just landed a deal with a very large, quite massive, notebook company which isn’t yet ready to reveal itself.

“All these deals are for multiple years so we have a revenue stream for quite a few years, not just one term and over.”

The potential for Antenova is huge. Flextronics’ revenues were over $15.5bn (£8.3bn) for the 12 months ended 31 March 2006, a large slice of which came from the EMS market that supplies the world’s major handset OEMs.

The Singapore firm has brought Antenova in to supply its next generation of high performance multiband mobile handsets.

McCray said: “The deal is primarily for handsets. Flextronics is a really big EMS which does some good old fashioned contract manufacturing work, building around 20 per cent of the world’s mobile phones on behalf of OEMs.”

According to the leading market research firm, Gartner, worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 816.6m units in 2005, a 21 per cent increase from 2004.

With a further 10 to 15 per cent growth rate predicted for 2006, Flextronics could send out over 185 million handsets by the end of the year.

Though the handsets will by no means be exclusively packing HDA, there will be plenty of opportunities both in the handset sector and others.

McCray said: “If an OEM makes the design, they will decide on the components. If the design is contracted to Flextronics it will choose us. Often it’s a joint decision.

“The point is, they think our antenna is the best antenna in the world and they will look to utilise ours first.

“Flextronics also wants to make products for other companies in new segments and will look to get into notebook spaces and other wireless consumer electrics.”

McCray believes that a large part of Antenova’s appeal lies in its product pipeline and he is aggressively recruiting – five new staff at Stow Cum Quy, Cambridge, and two at Taiwan in the last month.

“Our research and development is what keeps going forward and landing deals,” said McCray “Motorola and Flextronics look to the next generation of technology when they look to us.”

Flextronics agrees, the company adding: “The flexibility of Antenova’s HDA technology coupled with our optimised design and production processes will enhance our ability to introduce products with maximum functionality, ahead of the competition, while continuing to exceed our customers’ expectations for low cost, high quality products.”

Antenova is seeking to expand its Cambridge site in an effort to accommodate its continued growth and Stow Cum Quy is its preferred option.

Plans to move away from the site have been put on hold as negotiations with the its landlord progress and the group awaits the local authority’s decision on its preliminary planning application.

McCray said: “We have been looking at some plans and we may be staying where we are, in a larger space with new laboratory and equipment.”

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