Traffic information supplier INRIX announced a $60 million offer for the acquisition of its competitor, British ITIS Holdings plc. Upon approval by ITIS shareholders, the deal is expected to close in late August 2011, said INRIX. the Seattle company announced earlier this week a fund raising of $37 million to fund “acquisitions“.
“ITIS is a strategic investment that expands our geographic reach, technical expertise and suite of market leading technologies to offer customers the best traffic information, more cost-effectively and in more markets,” commented INRIX CEO Bryan Mistele.
With this acquisition INRIX adds eight new markets to its footprint, including Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, South Africa, Singapore and Russia. It also brings enhanced coverage in two key markets: UK and Germany.
The acquisition also adds 70 customers and $27 million in revenue. Key new customers and partners include Mercedes, Nissan, Telefonica, Vodafone and O2.
In terms of technology ITIS has a strong expertise in Cellular Floating Vehicle Data (CFVD) with 20 million connected devices in production. The system is live in Australia, Singapore, Ireland, UK and Belgium and soon to be available in Germany. CFVD is a technology that is not mastered by INRIX, but complements well its 10 million GPS probe data network.
The acquisition of ITIS is interesting as it creates a global traffic information pure player with more than 250 employees.
Despite traffic coverage in 11 countries, ITIS is mostly a UK business with 88 percent of its revenue coming from its British operations, according to its 2010 annual report. Elsewhere (with the exception of Germany) the company mostly licenses its technology to local partners, a business model that is quite different from INRIX who also relies on local partners but always sells under its own name.
As it comes to Europe, ITIS had formed a consortium, MILE Traffic GmbH, with French Mediamobile/V-Traffic and Italian Infoblu, to offer pan-European traffic coverage across Germany (built from scratch with Cellular Floating Vehicle Data from wireless operator O2 Germany), France and Italy. BMW is the first customer of this alliance. While Infoblu is also a partner of INRIX, Mediamobile is clearly a competitor on French soil, therefore it will have to be seen how this alliance will play out in the future.
For INRIX the acquisition of ITIS Holdings moves the company from being a challenger to being a leader, able to compete head to head with the like of NAVTEQ and TomTom.
This offer is also likely to quickly consolidate this market into a group of three B2B top players: NAVTEQ, TomTom and INRIX. Google - and perhaps also Apple - could become real competitors, but not on a B2B fashion in vending to car makers and GPS navigation vendors.