4 Min Read
* Inside Secure said to hire BNP, Jefferies for IPO
* Like Dutch rival NXP, Inside eyes "near-field" boom
* Analysts predict 300 million smartphones with NFC by 2014
(Adds background on competitors, wider portfolio, Echos report)
By Quentin Webb
LONDON, May 9 (Reuters) - Inside Secure, a chipmaker hoping to benefit from technology that allows shoppers to buy goods with the wave of a smartphone, has hired two banks for a Paris flotation, people familiar with the matter said.
The French company, which specialises in so-called "near-field communications", has hired BNP Paribas and Jefferies to prepare for an initial public share offer, the people said.
Inside Secure, based in Aix-en-Provence and led by Chief Executive Remy de Tonnac, may look to raise about 80-100 million euros ($115-$144 million), one of the people said. BNP declined to comment. Inside Secure said it did not comment on rumours. Jefferies had no comment.
NFC is a short-range way to swap data wirelessly, meaning mobile phones can become a way to pay for goods, store e-tickets, or swap photos and business cards.
NFC chips are starting to appear in devices such as Research In Motion's RIM.TO latest BlackBerry smartphones, and analysts forecast big growth -- in April, Juniper Research said nearly 300 million smartphones, or one in five of the world's total, would be NFC-capable by 2014.
Inside Secure's website lists 14 backers, including European venture capital firms GIMV (GIMV.BR) and Sofinnova, U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), Visa (V.N), and investment vehicles backed by Nokia NOK1V.HE and Samsung [SAGR.UL].
Inside Secure will have to persuade investors it can stand its ground against NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NXPI.O), the Dutch company that says it is the world leader in NFC technology, and others keen to break into the field. French smart card maker Gemalto GTO.PA is also making a big push in NFC.
Inside Secure will also have to explain how NFC fits with its wider portfolio of secure-payment and digital-security products, which includes technology for biometric passports and chips that allow debit card users to make contactless payments.
Last year, Inside bulked up by buying Atmel Corp's ATML.O smart-card business for an initial $32 million.
In April French newspaper Les Echos reported Inside Secure was seeking to raise less than 100 million euros through an IPO.
Last year U.S. chipmaker Broadcom Corp BRCM.O bought Innovision Research and Technology, a British NFC specialist, for about 32 million pounds in cash, then worth about $47 million in dollar terms.
For an analysis, "Telcos battle tech, banking titans in mobile payment", click [ID:nLDE7181BS]
For a graphic on estimated NFC payments, click: r.reuters.com/xed97r ($1=.6953 Euro) (Reporting by Quentin Webb in London; additional reporting by Leila Abboud in Paris; editing by Douwe Miedema and Louise Heavens)