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Honeywell to Buy Intermec

The acquisition, slated to close in mid-2013, will provide Honeywell's Scanning & Mobility division with more product offerings, as well as help it accelerate the company's development of RFID handheld reader products.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 12, 2012Technology giant Honeywell has announced plans to acquire RFID and automation-identification equipment technology company Intermec by June 2013. Intermec, a 46-year-old firm based in Everett, Wash., manufactures RFID readers, printers, tags and labels, as well as bar-code scanners and mobile computers. With the purchase, Honeywell will acquire all outstanding common shares of Intermec for $10 per share in cash, totaling approximately $600 million. This acquisition not only will extend Honeywell Scanning & Mobility's (HSM) mobile computing line, but will also bring a host of RFID products to the company, which had launched only a single RFID-based offering to date, earlier this year.

According to John Devlin, practice director of security and ID at ABI Research, the acquisition signals an endorsement of RFID by Honeywell. The fact that Intermec is being bought by a company that offers wider services and products beyond the RFID niche helps make RFID more of a mainstream technology, Devlin says.

In June 2012, Honeywell made its debut in the radio frequency identification market, when it released a handheld reader intended for use within retail stores and warehouses (see Honeywell Sees Its Optimus 5900 Reader as the First in a Series of RFID Products). At that time, Taylor Smith, HSM's director of product marketing, indicated that the company has been watching the RFID industry mature, particularly with regard to the growth in item-level tagging of merchandise to improve inventory accuracy. Based on those trends, he told RFID Journal, his company launched an RFID development strategy for the retailer market, by introducing the first of what was intended to be a series of RFID products for that sector.

Currently, says Bruce Eric Anderson, Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions' director of external communication, the company "is interested in Intermec as a natural extension of what we do in mobile computing." RFID and other technologies used to enhance mobile-computing data are attractive to Honeywell, he adds.

Once the acquisition is finalized, Anderson says, Honeywell intends to offer Intermec equipment as part of its HSM line, though the details of those plans have yet to be decided. Prior to the acquisition's closing, he reports, "a lot of work will be done," in an effort to determine how Intermec's products will be absorbed, and what future plans there may be specific to HSM's RFID offerings. Intermec has declined to comment for this story.

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