2 Big Acquisitions Announced at DistribuTECH 2002

Two acquisitions by utility industry vendors made big news at the recent DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in Miami Beach, Fla. Itron Inc., best known for its meter data collection solutions, announced its acquisition of LineSoft Corp., a provider of software and engineering consulting services for optimizing utility transmission and distribution systems. The other big announcement from the DistribuTECH exhibit hall involved two providers of mobile workforce management solutions as ViryaNet announced its acquisition of iMedeon Inc.

In perhaps the easier to fathom of the two acquisitions, ViryaNet acquired all outstanding shares of iMedeon in a transaction valued at approximately $2.85 million. Both companies are providers of wireless and Web-based solutions designed to assist in the management of utility field workers.

In discussing the merger, ViryaNet president and CEO Win Burke said, “ViryaNet’s strategy is to become the dominant best-in-class provider of Web-based and wireless workforce management solutions to companies in multiple industries, including the utilities sector, that provide service to their customers.”

Michael Maoz, Gartner Inc.’s vice president and research director, said the ViryaNet/iMedeon acquisition made sense because it created an entity that offered applications “for the continuum of utilities field work.”

“A mobile solution for utilities that can support connects, disconnects and meter services, and also addresses complicated work management issues such as non-linear, resource-intensive installation and maintenance projects, will be of high value to customers,” Maoz said.

The Itron acquisition of LineSoft (for approximately $42 million in cash and stock) might not be as easy to understand at the outset, given what seems like very different solutions provided by the two vendors. But LeRoy Nosbaum, Itron’s CEO, noted that the acquisition would be a major step toward broadening Itron’s mission of helping utilities optimize their energy delivery functions.

“For some time, Itron has talked about moving beyond data collection and information creation for meter reading,” Nosbaum said. “LineSoft will give Itron a suite of new products, principally design tools, that can help utilities design new transmission and distribution lines as well as upgrade existing facilities.”

Nosbaum said the combined expertise of Itron and LineSoft will result in solutions that “give utilities the knowledge they need to more closely match distribution resources with distribution needs.”

Fred A. Brown, LineSoft’s president, CEO and founder, agreed that the acquisition would position Itron to more broadly serve the utility industry. “Bringing these two companies together is a great move for LineSoft and Itron customers and employees,” Brown said.

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