Orbcomm, with inthinc in hand, completes tenth acquisition in five years

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WASHINGTON — Satellite operator Orbcomm’s purchase of inthinc — a Salt Lake City provider of vehicle telematics and driver safety products — is the tenth acquisition the company has completed since 2012, and doesn’t look to be the last in the operator’s spending spree.

With an estimated $100 million on hand from a March 31 sale of $250 million worth of senior secured notes, the Rochelle Park, New Jersey-based operator remains hungry for acquisitions as it evolves from machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity to include more and more devices in the larger industrial Internet of Things (IoT) market, according to analysts.

In a June 12 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Orbcomm said it paid $35 million for inthinc, covering $34.2 million of the cost in cash and the rest with new stock. The acquisition agreement includes an additional $25 million earn-out based on inthinc’s ability to reach specific revenue milestones.

Inthinc’s customers are mainly in industrial enterprises, such as oil, gas, utilities, and mining, as well as driver-centric businesses and organizations. The company provides two-way integration of in-vehicle devices, smart mobile devices and other telematics services for purposes including driver safety, operational efficiency, regulatory compliance and workforce optimization.

“With a superior portfolio of telematics solutions, inthinc provides a solid entry point for ORBCOMM into the vehicle fleet management market,” Orbcomm CEO Marc Eisenberg said in a June 12 statement. “inthinc’s offering complements and strengthens our existing transportation and heavy equipment product portfolio, allowing our customers to access a broader set of asset monitoring solutions.”

Todd Follmer, inthinc’s chief executive since 2006, is joining Orbcomm as senior vice president of fleet management.

Orbcomm’s acquisitions, which number 12 since 2010, have transformed the company from a business centered on satellite connectivity to one that includes hardware, applications, and device management. The operator completed the construction and launch of its second-generation low-Earth orbit constellation in December 2015, with each of the 16 new spacecraft capable of 12 times the data access and up to double the transmission rate of the first generation.

“We believe the deal is much more significant than the immediate financial impact since it enables the company to sell the inthinc product to its existing fleet of customers, target those customers for broader deployments, and enriches the product offering for new customers. In addition, we expect the company to use inthinc as the basis for other new safety and logistics products,” James McIlree, senior research analyst at Chardan Capital Markets, wrote in a June 12 research note.

Orbcomm used $150 million of its recently raised $250 million to repay outstanding loans, and said May 4 that the remaining $100 million was “intended for general corporate purposes, including potential future acquisitions.”

“We believe there may be additional [merger and acquisition] opportunities in the wings to continue expanding ORBCOMM’s IoT business into fleet management as this transaction only accounts for approximately one-third of the $100M of excess cash raised in early April,” Ric Prentiss, an analyst with company Raymond James, wrote June 12 in an investor research note.

Orbcomm’s largest acquisition over the past several years was SkyWave — once its largest M2M reseller — for $130 million in 2015.

Chris Quilty of Quilty Analytics wrote June 13 that the inthinc purchase shows “a classic ORBCOMM acquisition” pattern of bringing in a smaller partner and using Orbcomm’s larger scale “to generate cost and growth synergies.”

“We would not be surprised to see additional transactions on a go-forward basis,” he wrote.