France Telecom Buying Emblaze's Orca

France Telecom subsidiary Viaccess is buying the Israeli company Orca Interactive from the London-traded Emblaze group for $21.4 million, Orca said Monday.

France Telecom subsidiary Viaccess is buying the Israeli company Orca Interactive from the London-traded Emblaze group for $21.4 million, Orca said yesterday.

Viaccess is buying 100% of the cellular technology firm's shares three and a half years after the company was floated in London. Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by Orca Interactive shareholders at a meeting scheduled for April 15.

"From the perspective of the shareholders, this is the best result they could have received under the circumstances," commented Orca CEO Haggai Barel yesterday.

Barel also said that all the Orca shareholders with whom he had spoken said they were satisfied with the Viaccess transaction.

Emblaze, the parent company of a group of technology companies with a focus on cellular, owns 60% of Orca's stock. It had been seeking a happy home for Orca for about a year. Emblaze says the deal is worth about 59 cents per Orca share.

Orca raised $25 million in 2004 at a company valuation of $63 million, so the exit is a disappointing one for veteran investors. But if you bought Orca stock last month you've made 140%.

Ra'anana-based Orca develops middleware - software that connects different applications - for television-over-Internet protocol (IPTV). It has gross assets of $15.9 million and posted a net loss of $4.3 million for the year 2007. Viaccess is a European leader in IPTV with over 1.2 million active subscribers worldwide.

Emblaze said it expects to record a capital gain from the deal of $4 million for the first half of 2008. Proceeds from the deal will be used for working capital, it said.

Through this acquisition, Orca and Viaccess said, they will improve their market positions.