Thales sells GPS unit to Shah Capital for $170m

Shah Capital Partners, a California-based private equity firm, has led an investor group in the $170m purchase of Thales Navigation from the French defence and aerospace group.

Shah Capital Partners, a US technology-focused investor, has led the acquisition of Thales Navigation, the GPS navigation business of French defence and aerospace electronics group Thales, for $170 million (€135 million).

Other investors in the buyout were Tudor Group, Galleon Management, Consolidated Press Holdings, AIG SunAmerica and Westwood Holdings.

Following completion of the deal, the GPS navigation unit will be renamed Magellan Navigation.

Thales Navigation develops products for the consumer, survey, GIS and OEM GPS navigation and positioning markets, including the Hertz NeverLost car navigation system, the Magellan RoadMate series of portable car navigation sytems and ProMark. The company has approximately 600 employees in Nantes, France, Moscow, Russia, and San Dimas and Santa Clara, US.

Ajay Shah, managing partner at Shah Capital Partners said: “Thales Navigation brings key assets towards potential growth, including leadership positions in its key markets, the strength of the Magellan brand, pervasive retail distribution, and the Hertz joint venture and Hertz NeverLost brand.”

Thales Navigation is not Shah Capital Partners first raid on the French group’s assets. In December 2004, the firm snapped up Thales Electronics Solutions, an electronics design and services business.

Thales also sold its High Tech Optics division last September to Candover, a London-based private equity firm, for €220 million. The deal was Candover’s first in the defence and aeronautics sector.

Founded in 2003, Shah Capital Partners has completed six acquisitions since inception, including UK microcircuits developer C-Mac MicroTechnolgy and Smart Modular, an electronics manufacturing business bought for $100 million alongside Texas Pacific Group and Francisco Partners. The company was floated on the Nasdaq in February 2006.