Softbank bails out of Cognotec

Softbank bails out of Cognotec

Japanese finance firm Softbank has pulled out of Irish FX dealing technology company Cognotec after taking a EUR31.5 million ($40 million) hit from its stake in the business.

According to a Sunday Times report Cognotec founder Brian Maccaba and FinVentures, the private equity arm of Standard Chartered Bank, are paying $9.5 million for Softbank's 28.5% stake in the vendor.

Softbank has ploughed a total of $60 million into Cognotec in the last seven years. The Japanese firm invested $40 million in Cognotec in 1999 and 2000, while Softbank Ventures, a related venture capital fund, stumped up a further $10 million in 2000.

Softbank invested a further $10 million in 2001 and last year the Japanese firm purchased the venture fund's stake and consolidated its interests into one holding, making it Cognotec's largest backer.

At one point, Cognotec was valued at around $300 million, but the vendor has suffered heavy losses in the past few years and recorded an accumulated loss of $92 million at the end of 2004. But things were looking up last year when the vendor returned to the black and posted an operating profit of $3.7 million and reported revenues of $28.1 million.

However, the deal with Softbank values Cognotec at just $33 million. The deal also makes Maccaba the largest shareholder in the company.

In 2003 Maccaba was embroiled in an Indecent Proposal-style slander case involving the wife of a senior London rabbi over alleged sexual slurs.

Maccaba claimed that he had been slandered by Dayan Yaakov Lichtenstein and accused the senior rabbi of slurring his reputation within the orthodox community by spreading allegations that he was a "sexual predator" and "serial adulterer" who pursued young married Jewish women. Maccaba lost the suit in 2004 after a High Court jury found the case put forward by Lichtenstein was "substantially true" and without malice.

Maccaba is thought to have been hit with legal costs of nearly £2 million from the case, which lasted for 41 days and became the longest-running slander action in English legal history.

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