Symbian, the technology firm owned by Psion and a consortium of mobile phone makers and electronics companies, yesterday signed up the electronics giant Samsung as its seventh shareholder in a deal that values the privately owned business at £340m.
Samsung is paying £17m for 5 per cent of the London-based business -- about £2.75m more than Siemens paid for a 5 per cent stake in April of last year in a deal that had valued Symbian at £285m.
The latest valuation, however, is substantially beneath the figures that were thrown around at the peak of the technology boom in the spring of 2000 when analysts estimated Symbian could be worth between £1bn and £10bn.
The move sees Psion's 26.6 per cent stake diluted to 25.3 per cent. Motorola, Nokia and Ericsson/Sony Ericsson, which each hold 20 per cent of Symbian, will see their holdings fall to 19 per cent. Matsushita, meanwhile, will see its 8.4 per cent stake fall to 7.9 per cent while Siemen's stake falls to 4.8 per cent from 5 per cent.
Symbian, whose operating system sits inside mobile phones and other handheld devices, is striving to make its technology the industry standard in handheld gadgets. It competes with the US giant Microsoft, among others.
David Levin, Symbian's chief executive, said: "Samsung's deepened commitment to Symbian underlines the industry-wide adoption of Symbian OS [operating system] as the global standard OS choice for smartphones."
"With 22 Symbian OS products currently in development by eight licensees, we look forward to the widespread market introduction of Symbian OS devices during the coming year," he said.
Symbian's shareholders have consistently said the business will be floated on the stock market but only after conditions have improved and once its technology is selling in large volumes. It believes it can reach break-even when between 17 million and 21 million units containing its technology are selling each year. Last year about 2 million devices were shipped.
Sang Jin Park, the senior vice-president and general manger of Samsung's mobile communication division, said: "Samsung licensed Symbian OS for both GSM/GPRS and CDMA smartphone developments."