Identix, Visionics double up
Biometrics firms say combined company will be better able to meet soaring demand.
February 22, 2002: 6:19 p.m. ET

graphic NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The biggest supplier of biometrics technology used for security is getting a little bit bigger.

Identix Inc., the top supplier of fingerprint scanning equipment used to secure buildings and computer networks, authorize financial transactions, and perform criminal background checks, has agreed to buy face-recognition systems specialist Visionics Corp.

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Under a "definitive merger of equals agreement," Identix said it will give issue 1.3436 Identix (IDNX: Research, Estimates) shares for each outstanding share of Visionics (VSNX: Research, Estimates) common stock.

Identix Chairman and CEO Robert McCashin will serve as chairman of the new company, which still is unnamed. Visionics CEO Joseph Atick will be CEO.

The new company will have a board comprised of eight directors, four from each company.

The business of biometrics, which refers to the technology and science of using unique biological characteristics to verify a person's identity, has drawn much interest from Wall Street in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks which killed thousands of people.

Demand for such systems has surged as government agencies, corporations and consumers reassess the security of their offices and homes, as well as their data, amid a heightened awareness of vulnerability.

"I believe we can accelerate revenue growth by taking advantage of immediate up-sell and cross-sell opportunities in every market in which we currently operate," Visionics' Atick said in a statement.

Executives said the new company will have the ability to offer total security solutions by integrating their complementary product lines and through leveraging their respective technologies and partnerships into key large-scale markets that require biometric authentication and identification.

Jersey City, N.J.-based Visionics, which logged $30.8 million in sales during its last fiscal year, specializes in systems that key in on unique facial characteristics and compare them against a database of known criminals or terrorists.

It currently sells its products primarily to the U.S. government.

For its part, Identix, which reported $60.6 million in sales during its last fiscal year, is the top supplier of fingerprint scanning hardware and software and the largest publicly traded biometrics firm.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company also designs products that use biological characteristics such as eye patterns, and voice and facial structure, but its core business is in fingerprint identification.

The transaction, which the company's said is structured to qualify as a tax-free reorganization, is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. When complete, Identix' shareholders will own roughly 52.4 percent of the combined company, and Visionics' shareholders will own the rest.

Lehman Brothers served as financial adviser to Identix on the deal while Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. advised Visionics. graphic