Biometric hat trick

Viisage to acquire Iridian, become L1 Identity Solutions
Friday, September 1, 2006

BILLERICA, Mass.--Viisage Technology is on its way to achieving a biometric hat trick--"the full range of biometric recognition solutions encompassing iris, finger and face"--with the July 17 announcement of a $35 million acquisition agreement with Iridian Technologies, of Moorestown, N.J.
Iridian, the company that initially developed and commercialized iris recognition technology, brings with it the industry-standard iris recognition algorithm also known as Dr. John Dougman's algorithm. Viisage plans to combine Iridian's portfolio with its wholly owned subsidiary SecuriMetrics "to advance the development and implementation of SecuriMetrics' advanced hardware, software and database capabilities," said Greg Peterson, founder and chief executive officer of SecuriMetrics.
"The vision that Bob LaPenta [chairman of the Board of Directors of Viisage] had some time ago, of bringing together these very individual, but related, core pieces of biometrics--this last move makes it a complete set," Peterson said.
The Iridian agreement is subject to Iridian shareholder approval and was expected to close at the end of August after Security Systems News went to print. Viisage also has a merger pending with Identix, a fingerprint and facial recognition biometric company in Minnetonka, Minn., which was also expected to close in August.
On September 1, the company name will become L1 Identity Solutions, said Doni Fordyce, a partner with L1 Investment Partners. At that time, LaPenta, who, in addition to being chairman of the board of Viisage, is chairman and founder of L1 Investment Partners, "will take on the role of CEO of L1 Industry Solutions," Fordyce explained.
During an August 3 earnings conference call, Viisage's outgoing president and chief executive officer Bernard Bailey said the Iridian acquisition, coupled with the impending Identix merger, will complete "our objective of bringing together under one roof the world's largest and most complete integrated biometrics and identity solutions company."
Bob LaPenta noted that the Iridian acquisition eliminated "an impediment that was constantly hanging over the market and potential customers, the fact that, when they bought a product, did they own the product? Was there going to be litigation? Would they be able to get the product? All of that has gone away." LaPenta said he thinks LI Identity Solutions has a "minimum of a two-year advantage over anybody in this space." The company will now "look at our entire IP portfolio and the entire license portfolio ... to see if we can put together a formula that works for us and our licensees ... And if that involves royalties and license agreements, we think there is a real opportunity there to put us in a very, very good position in this iris market as it develops." LaPenta predicted that iris will rival the facial biometric market in the next four or five years.
With this first phase completed, LaPenta indicated that he was not looking specifically to acquire more technologies. However, in response to a question during the conference call, he mentioned an interest in the technology that goes into cards.
"We have card producers at our doorstep looking to partner with us on various opportunities," LaPenta said. "I think we have ample opportunity to team or partner with very capable card manufacturers." Bailey noted during the call that, in addition to building its biometric capabilities, the company has consistently sought to "enhance our card capability portfolio, as well as our analytics, our database and our human intelligence types of capabilities."