Siemens Decelerates

Siemens Acceleration in Communications is shutting down, and has put its 24-company portfolio on the block. Several bids have been submitted, with a final decision due this week.

The global group began life in 2001 as Siemens Mobile Acceleration, with a focus on seed-stage and early-stage opportunities in the wireless sector. It was renamed this past March, and given an expanded mandate to invest $100 million over five years in the broader communications space.

Since then, however, corporate parent Siemens AG has instituted a major restructuring of its information and communications activities. It announced plans to lay off 5,400 employees, reportedly agreed to sell its Product-Related Services business to Fujitsu Siemens Computers and actually paid BenQ Corp. to acquire its money-hemorrhaging mobile handset unit. The shutdown of Siemens Acceleration in Communications is just another part of the restructuring, with the corporate upside of near-immediate liquidity.

It is unclear if Siemens also will look to sell some of its other venture capital endeavors, like the Communications Fund unit of Siemens Venture Capital. A source familiar with the situation said that he didn’t know, but added that Acceleration in Communications had been particularly vulnerable because its seed-stage deals often had loose strategic ties to Siemens’ overall strategy.

North American portfolio company CEOs were told of the sale last week, and that it likely would close by year-end. Once done, U.S. general manager Gerald Brady is expected to move to another position within Siemens, while U.S. vice president Sven Weber is expected to leave the company.

A number of bidders have expressed interest in the portfolio, including one that includes current Acceleration in Communications CEO Dietrich Ulmer and other Germany-based managers. A final decision is expected this week.

Ulmer did not return repeated requests for comment, while Siemens spokeswoman Paula Davis declined to comment.