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KVH buys Videotel Featured

Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH CEO Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH CEO Image: KVH

KVH today announced that it has acquired e-Learning provider Videotel, in a deal worth almost $50 million.

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Servicing approximately 11,000 vessels, Videotel provides maritime training services, offering video, animation, computer-based training (CBT), and interactive distance learning courses

“The acquisition of Videotel is an important addition to our portfolio of services targeting the needs of commercial seafarers and supports our strategic vision of extending our maritime broadband service to include delivering premium content to vessels,” said Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH's chief executive officer.

“We already offer maritime companies crew connectivity through our mini-VSAT Broadband network, including internet café, Voice over IP phone calls, and crew entertainment services via our IP-MobileCast service.”

“With this acquisition, we will now also offer an extensive library of seafarer training courses and related training services.”

The IP-MobileCast service is the centrepiece of KVH's move into content delivery to ships at sea, marrying its VSAT communications system with packages for a variety of on board applications.

It already offers entertainment, in the form of TV, movies and global news, as well as electronic chart services from Jeppesen and weather routing data from AWT.

Computer based training and e-Learning services will be the latest addition to this list following the Videotel acquisition.

“Videotel operates in a growing sector of the e-Learning market where increasing levels of regulation and a shortage of trained and experienced seafarers drive the need for comprehensive training solutions,” said Mr Kits van Heyningen.

“We anticipate that Videotel's training services and the ability to test and certify seafarer training will support the new employment services we're rolling out on our Crewtoo social media site.”

Speaking of the acquisition, Nigel Cleave, CEO of Videotel, said, “Advances in maritime broadband services are creating truly exciting opportunities to bring a whole new generation of computer-based e-Learning and distance learning courses to seafarers, which will help our customers meet the large number of new regulations and associated challenges that will come into effect over the next few years.”

“In our discussions with KVH, we quickly saw how the innovative mini-VSAT Broadband network and especially the new KVH IP-MobileCast content delivery service could really be leveraged to deliver our new training materials more efficiently and provide the affordable connectivity needed for our new distance learning services.”

“We're excited to be part of the KVH family to propel the company forward on both the technological and delivery front, as well as to work with our new colleagues in developing the next generation of seafarer training.” 

KVH says that the £28.7 million (approximately US$48.9 million) transaction was financed from its cash on hand and proceeds from a new credit facility.

The Videotel group companies showed annual combined revenues in 2013 of £14 million, of which approximately 93 per cent was derived from multi-year subscription-based services, with a gross profit margin of approximately 73 per cent.

“We recognised that our commercial maritime customers face significant challenges training and certifying the qualifications of their vessels' crews and that advances in communications technology will be a key enabler in the delivery of the e-Learning and distance learning services and cloud-based training management systems that Videotel offers,” said Mr Kits van Heyningen.

“In Videotel we found a team of smart, energetic people with a real passion for their products and services, and going forward I believe the combined efforts of our new, larger team will make our joint vision of extensively improved seafarer training a reality.”

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