Scanning the market, GE looks to InVision

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Saturday, May 1, 2004

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WILTON, Conn. - General Electric continues to build upon its portfolio of security companies, this time focusing on the explosive detection market with plans to buy InVision Technologies, one of only two Transportation Security Administration-approved providers of luggage screening products for airports.

The $900 million offer was announced in mid-March and is expected to close during the second half of 2004. The acquisition would allow GE’s Infrastructure division to merge technology with InVision, known for its advanced development of computer tomography scanning technology.

“InVision has a very strong set CT scanning technology for baggage,” said Jeff DeMarrais, a spokesperson for GE. “If you couple that with GE’s Ion Track trace detection capabilities, there are some great opportunities for complementary technologies.”

For the past two years GE has steadily increased its presence in the security market through acquisitions. It first entered the market when it bought Interlogix, a holding company for a number of security companies with products ranging from sensors and alarm panels to access control and CCTV systems. Since then notable acquisitions include InfoGraphic Systems, Monitoring Automation Systems, International Fiber Systems and fire company Kilsen.

GE executives have said the plan is to grow the security group to a $3 billion business by 2006, and with InVision now tapped to join GE the conglomerate is well on its way to building a security powerhouse.

For InVision, a Newark, Calif.-based company with annual revenues of $416 million, joining up with the likes of GE enables it to expand its reach internationally and in technology development. The company has already deployed more than 1,000 of its baggage screening systems throughout the world, but company officials believe opportunity remain in other areas.

“Aviation security is very much a priority for the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA is doing a good job on checked luggage, but they’re probably looking at other areas,” said Stan Neve, spokesman for InVision. “Everything on a commercial aircraft needs to be screened and the TSA is looking at options for air cargo. Sixty to seventy percent of air cargo can be screened using existing InVision technology.”

As of press time InVision had yet to file a shareholder proxy on the merger, but it was expected to be completed before the end of April. Once the deal is finalized, an integration team will come onboard to decide upon the structure of upper management.