3M Offers $943M for Biometric Security Vendor Cogent Systems

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3M has agreed to buy biometric access control systems vendor Cogent for around US$943 million in cash.

The acquisition will allow 3M to expand its ID card and authentication systems business beyond its core border control and law enforcement markets and into other commercial sectors, it said Monday.

Cogent's product range includes automated fingerprint and palmprint identification systems that can be used to secure access to computer hardware and applications.

3M is offering $10.50 per Cogent share, which it says puts the price at around $943 million. However, Cogent's cash reserves mean 3M will effectively get a $500 million rebate on that price, putting the net cost to 3M at around $430 million, the companies said.

Cogent's board unanimously recommends the deal to shareholders, and the company's chairman and founder Ming Hsieh has agreed to sell his stake. The companies expect to close the deal during the fourth quarter.

Cogent, based in Pasadena, California, had revenue of around $130 million last year, a small slice of a global biometrics market it values at $4 billion.

In the enterprise biometric access control market, it competes with businesses such as L-1 Identity Solutions of Stamford, Connecticut, and Dermalog Identification Systems of Hamburg, Germany.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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