Wellington sells security firm for $33m

Wellington Partners, the Munich-based venture capital firm, has sold German content security provider Cobion to Nasdaq-listed Internet Security Systems, an IT security firm, for $33m.

In a sign that it is now possible to achieve decent exits from early-stage technology businesses, Germany's Wellington Partners has sold portfolio company Cobion to Internet Security Systems (ISS) of the US.

Wellington led a $4.5 million (€3.6 million) investment in Cobion just 18 months ago, in which Sofinnova Partners of France also participated. Cobion specialises in web filtering and anti-spam technology and aims to protect individuals and enterprises against unwanted and illegal emails and web content.

With the acquisition of Cobion, ISS has gained a presence in content security, which is the fastest-growing sector of the IT security market. According to IDC, the IT market intelligence firm, global demand for content security services is expected to reach over $1.5 billion by 2006.

“We have long been convinced of the rapid growth of the security market, which is why we invested in Cobion early on,” said Wellington partner Frank Boehnke. He added: “This acquisition once again demonstrates Germany’s strength as a technology powerhouse. Companies in Germany are developing cutting edge technologies that are having a sustained impact on the global market.”

Wellington Partners was formed in 1991 and invests in information and communications technology as well as life science. The firm has a total fund volume of €265 million and is currently investing its €210 million Wellington Partners II fund, which closed in June 2000. Its Wellington Partners I fund has so far returned 1.7 times subscribed capital.