The favorite for the Unabiz takeover bid disqualified by the Ministry of Economy?

It is at once a diatribe, a warning, or even a cry of concern on his part. The CSE of Sigfox and the 180 employees it represents”they deny that the presidential election (in France) endangers their future“, they declare in a press release sent on the night of Tuesday, April 12.

To understand, you have to go back almost three months. Former star of La French Tech thanks to its 0G technology, which is presented as a low-speed telecommunications network for the Internet of Things (IoT), the startup Sigfox goes into receivership before the Toulouse Commercial Court on 26 from January. Through this procedure, a dozen candidates are positioned to take over the company that employs nearly 300 people worldwide, a large part of them in Labège, southeast of the Pink City, which houses the headquarters.

After the hearings of the candidates and discussions with the CSE, followed by a decisive hearing at the Commercial Court of Toulouse on Tuesday April 5 to present their respective projects, only four remain in the race to take over the parent company, Sigfox Corp, and the French Subsidiary. , that is, 180 employees. as revealed The galery, of the four remaining files, two were dismissed by the staff representative body with an unfavorable opinion, one with a reserved opinion and another with a favorable opinion. For the latter, it is Unabiz, a Sigfox operator for the Taiwan and Singapore area founded and directed by a former employee of the startup. But this offer could be thrown out by the Toulouse commercial court for a legal (but also very political) aspect, even though it is favored by the management, the CSE and the employees…

Sigfox acquisition: Unabiz favorite Ludovic Le Moan throws in the towel

Management wants Unabiz as a buyer

No later than Thursday, April 14, the court must appoint the buyer of the Sigfox company and Unabiz’s offer seemed to have an advantage over its three competitors thanks to this accession. The 70-employee company has also the support of the Sigfox ambassadors association, as well as the 0G United Nation, which is an international association of 0G operators of which Sigfox is a member.

“Only one offer completely convinced the elected officials. This offer also stands out for the management of Sigfox. This is the offer submitted by UnaBiz, a Sigfox operator in Asia, founded and managed by two French entrepreneurs, including a former employee of Sigfox (…)”, writes the CSE in its press release. The CSE was able to verify a culture of entrepreneurship proche de celle de Sigfox, which reduces the risk of talents. I proposed financing for it coherent with the project. […] The CSE considers the diversification of income sources explained in the strategy to be credible and interesting. UnaBiz is legit and trustworthy to execute this strategy […]as well as in its technical vision”, adds Antoine Maïer, elected to the CSE and spokesperson for the organization in this procedure.

Despite these favorable opinions, one indicator remains orange for the commissioner judge in charge of the Sigfox file: being a company based abroad, the Ministry of Economy must grant Unabiz IEF authorization (Foreign Investments in France). What he has not yet obtained less than 48 hours after the verdict of the Toulouse Commercial Court. “Bercy still hasn’t replied to us and still knows the deadline“, regrets its leader Henri Bong, accompanied by The galery.

“The Ministry of Economy, contacted by the CSE, indicated on April 11 that the file was complete, but still under investigation. This is worrying for employees whose fate depends only on this authorization. Different sources close to the case told the CSE of Sigfox that the Ministry of Economy was postponing and would not give its agreement before the second round of the presidential elections scheduled for April 24. Problem: the Toulouse commercial court must issue its decision this Thursday, April 14. The employees do not want political issues to disrupt their future, and they do not understand that considerations involved can deprive them of their jobs and put at risk the technology for which they have invested so much They ask the Ministry of Economy to complete the investigation of the UnaBiz file without delay, and issue a detailed response,” writes the CSE in its press release dated Tuesday, April 12.

French candidate Actility revived?

A silence on the part of the Ministry of Economy would be officially perceived as a refusal to issue the authorization by the Toulouse commercial court, which would in fact reduce any hope of success for Unabiz in the Sigfox case. “Bercy plays an ostrich and we don’t understand why“, torments a source familiar with the matter, especially since Unabiz has made official commitments to the French state about its intentions regarding the Toulouse-based startup.

“Le ministère de l’Économie demanded des engagements à Unabiz, sur une vingtaine de conditions potentiellement suspensives. L’ensemble des conditions ont été acceptedées par la société, c’est tout sauf une formalité. Unabiz, à l’égard de Sigfox s’est engaged notamment sur un maintien du siège en France sur 10 ans et le maintien, pour la même durée, des sensitive activities et des capacités industrielles en France (autrement dit les emplois notamment, ndlr)”, comments Antoine Maïer, joint par The galery.

Several sources familiar with the matter, who prefer to remain anonymous for their part, let it be known that this position by Bercy completely flips the cards among all potential Sigfox buyers still in the running. And it gives an advantage to others…

In the proposed takeover of the French company Actility, which received an unfavorable opinion from the CSE, “BPI France, and therefore indirectly the State, is an investor in the case“, underlines one of these sources, implying that Bercy would be tempted to favor this file by blocking Unabiz. In addition, the Public Investment Bank has invested on several occasions since the birth of Sigfox in 2011”,the state would certainly take a dim view of Sigfox coming under foreign control despite Unabiz commitments“, we say internally.

Furthermore, unlike the Asian candidate who has positioned himself for the takeover of the parent company and its French subsidiary, Actility has positioned itself solely for the takeover of Sigfox Corp. If the Toulouse commercial court retains the French company in this case, then it would be necessary to form a pair with a company interested in the subsidiary. Such a configuration would thus give every opportunity to Heliot Europe Gmbh, a foreign investor who would have obtained the green light from Bercy according to the actors in the file, and until now very little mentioned because he is only interested in the French subsidiary. Verdict in less than 48 hours.

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