Suitors vie for Honeywell’s residential, monitoring biz

The second time could be a charm for one of the largest U.S. alarm cos.
Monday, March 1, 2004

MINNEAPOLIS - Less than a year after it last announced its intent to sell the business unit, Honeywell appears poised to divest itself of its alarm monitoring division.

Company officials are expected to announce by the end of the first quarter that it has found a buyer for Honeywell’s U.S. alarm monitoring business. It is considered one of the five largest alarm monitoring companies in the United States.

“Most of this past year, we’ve been preparing the business for sale,” said Mark Hamel, spokesman for Honeywell Business Solutions.

Hamel declined to discuss specifics of the potential sale, such as possible suitors, but did say that the business, which serves 140,000 accounts across the United States with 850 employees and 40 branch locations, has garnered a lot of interest within the industry.

“There’s no shortage of interest,” he said.

Hamel said Honeywell has been pleased with the interest from potential buyers in the industry, whom he said he could not identify at this stage in the process.

Last March, Honeywell announced that it would sell its U.S. monitoring business. This came more two years after the company first tried to sell the unit, only to pull it off the block.

Since then Honeywell’s U.S. alarm monitoring business has changed considerably. In 2000 the company employed 1,400 people and operated in 62 locations. Today, Honeywell’s alarm monitoring employee base is roughly 60 percent of that.

Industry consultant Craig Leiser, president of Kismet Group Ltd., said interested suitors for the monitoring business have cleared the first set of hurdles.

“The sale is being handled by an investment bank in rather deep discretion. It has been through a preliminary offer phase and is now in the secondary phase where greater details are requested and direct meetings, as well as site reviews, are in process,” he said.

This time around, Leiser said, a sale appears imminent for Honeywell.

“I believe that unless the offers are deemed “unresponsive” this phase will result in a sale,” he said.

Leiser said he did not know the identities of the interested parties, but an industry source familiar with the sale who asked not to be identified said that United Technologies Corp., Siemens and Brink’s were among the bidders.

Hamel said Honeywell is selling the entire business unit, rather than a collection of acounts.

“We’re marketing this as a going concern, an operating business that is successful and strong” he said. “We’re not selling a portfolio of accounts.”

Honeywell is selling the business, in an effort to “focus more on higher growth security products and high-end integrated building solutions,” Hamel said.

“It’s mainly because the security monitoring business isn’t a good fit for our overall strategy of business,” he said.