NEA enters Latin America

A Series C funding round for Spring Wireless represents NEA's first foray into Latin America. Goldman Sachs was also among the backers of the telecom company, which anticipates an IPO in 2009.

US venture firm New Enterprise Associates and global investment bank Goldman Sachs have led a $66 million (€45 million) Series C venture round for Brazil-based telecom company Spring Wireless.

The deal represents NEA's first in Latin America.

NEA and Goldman were joined in the financing by two existing investors: publicly-traded Brazilian holding company Ideiasnet and Darby Technology Ventures, a venture fund of Franklin Templeton Investments' private equity arm Darby Private Equity.

Additional Spring Wireless shareholders include technology giants Intel and Ericsson. The shareholders intend to take Spring public on the Nasdaq in a 2009 initial public offering.

Founded in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2001, Spring provides wireless services that connect mobile workforces to corporate systems. The company has a presence in 10 countries and has services in place in over 20 countries covering Latin America, the US, the Iberian Peninsula and Russia.

Spring was valued at $110 million pre-money for this transaction and will have a post-money value of $140 million, according to a statement.

California- and Maryland-based NEA has previously focused its attention outside of the US in China and India, where it also maintains offices. The firm closed its most recent fund on $2.5 billion in August 2006.

Ideiasnet is a Bovespa-listed holding company that acts as a vehicle for long-term investments in late-stage information technology companies in Brazil. Sub-holding company, Ideias Ventures, invests in early-stage companies.

Based on Spring’s current valuation, the return for Ideiasnet’s shareholders since the firm’s initial investment in December 2004 is approximately 450 percent. Ideiasnet owns 10.2 percent of Spring.