Viisage and Identix to merge

Two powerhouse players in the biometrics industry, Viisage and Identix, announced today they will merge.

Viisage will buy Identix in a $770 million stock swap.

The combined company will be led by Robert LaPenta, who will become chairman and chief executive officer. Each company’s boards of directors has approved the merger.

LaPenta, who formed an investment company in April 2005 to make a big splash in the biometrics market, became chairman of the board at Viisage late in 2005. His intention has been to create a biometrics company that will be a market leader. Combining Identix's biometric search technology with Viisage's expertise in secure credentials, document authentication and verification will help accomplish that, he said in announcing the merger.

Before moving into the biometrics field, LaPenta co-founded L-3 Communications.

“With its proven technology, strength of management and services, and marquee customer base, the combined entity has the ability to achieve significant revenue growth and profitability,” he added.

Joseph Atick, Identix’s president and CEO, will become vice chairman of the combined company’s board of directors and chief strategic officer. Bernard Bailey, Viisage’s president and CEO, will also remain with the new company, but his position and title have not been set yet, a Viisage spokesman said.

The combined company is expected to generate about $220 million in revenues and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of at least $40 million, according to the press release.

Each company has significant dealings with federal, state and local governments, including defense, intelligence agencies, homeland security, law enforcement, corrections and other programs.

The transaction is expected to be finalized in the second quarter this year and is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, including approval by each company’s shareholders at their respective stockholder meetings.

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