Roman Abramovich has ploughed more cash into tech startup Truphone in £255m rights issue

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Truphone's rights issue has raised £255m (Source: Getty)

Roman Abramovich has ploughed more cash into a startup working on technology that can replace the need for physical sim cards in any any connected device.

The Chelsea FC owner's investment vehicle Minden is among existing shareholders to back Truphone through a £255m rights issue.

Vollin Holdings, the investment firm of fellow Russian oligarch Alexander Abramov, has also backed the startup and the two firms own a majority stake between them.

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Recently filed accounts show the company has continued to reduce losses and is on track to break even in early 2018. Pre-tax losses for 2016 were £57m, down from £69m a year earlier and £133m in 2014. It also grew revenue to £31m, up from £26m the year prior and £10.9m in 2014.

“I see this latest investment as a significant vote of confidence from our investors in our growth strategy, and our ambition to continue scaling the business globally. It is an important step in achieving our long-term goal to power billions of connected devices around the world," said chief executive Ralph Steffens.

Truphone is also a mobile network that offers local rates on data,calls and texts around the world at local prices without the need to switch sims. It boasts more than 3,000 business clients, including nine of the world's 12 top investment banks.

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It recently partnered with Apple to become a network provider option on iPads. The tablet and more recently the newest Apple Watch have e-sim technology, where the functionality of a sim card is embedded within the device.

Steffans told City A.M. it's working on its own e-sim technology and is lining up partners to use it, such as companies making devices, appliances and gaming consoles, and even makers and designers of chips to make the technology into them. More than 50bn devices will be online by 2020, analysts predict, and the company will also launch an Internet of Things (IoT) platform.

In addition to expansion plans, the cash will go on paying off debt to "tidy up the balance sheet", as well as strategic acquisitions, at least one of which is already in the works.

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