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IPico Holdings Acquired by Canadian Co.

Now named iPico Inc., the RFID systems developer and manufacturer is set to raise its profile in the North American market.
By Jonathan Collins
Tags: Standards
Apr 24, 2006On Mar. 30, Canadian-based RFID investment company AMtag ID Inc. purchased the assets and business considerations of iPico Holdings, located in Pretoria, South Africa, as well as those of iPico franchise operations in Australia and China. The deal resulted in the creation of www.ipico.com iPico Inc. AMtag's Mar. 31 reverse takeover of Anitech Enterprises Inc., the defunct Canadian provider of RFID pet-tracking systems and services under the PetNet brand, has taken iPico onto the TSX Venture stock exchange, but with a new ticker of RFD instead of Anitech's own ticker, ANI.

"We are now going after the North American market," says Luther Erasmus, former CEO of iPico Holdings and now the president and chief operating officer at iPico Inc. "We haven't before because we didn't have the resources, and the focus in North America has been on EPC." The acquisition valued iPico and its subsidiaries at C$37 million (US$33 million), according to Erasmus.

Luther Erasmus, iPico Inc.
IPico intends to have its first Electronic Product Code (EPC) tags ready in the third quarter of this year. The new EPC Gen 2 chips are being developed with Switzerland's EM Microelectronic. IPico has traditionally concentrated its RFID systems around its own iP-X communication protocol, and across a range of frequencies, including 2.4 GHz, 125 kHz and UHF. However, with its plan to develop and sell Gen 2 systems, iPico has opened a sales office in Atlanta and shifted its headquarters to Toronto.

IPico says it chose to list on the Toronto exchange as a way to access the greater investment opportunities available in North America. "A North American stock exchange means the potential to raise significant funds," says Erasmus, "and it's impossible to raise that kind of money outside North America."

Just prior to acquiring iPico Holdings, AMtag completed a private placement equity financing, in which it raised C$15 million (US$13 million) to complete the merger and provide iPico Inc. with approximately C$7 million (US$6 million) in working capital. IPico says the new money will help it expand its operations, allowing the company to hire additional sales and business-development staff, as well as increase the level of product inventory it can hold. "Until now, we have been manufacturing to order," says Erasmus. "We will now have faster deliveries times, as we can apply the resources to get product out the door."

IPico primarily targets its RFID systems at six market applications: document and file tracking; container security; commercial explosives tracking; access control and people tracking; vehicle tracking; and sports timekeeping. Last year, the company formed a partnership with Beijing-based systems integrator SparkiceLab, hoping to establish its iP-X technology as China's RFID standard (see Sparkice and iPico Form Chinese Venture). It also introduced a passive UHF RFID system from iPico using "tag talks first" (TTF) technology, suitable for applications involving items moving at high speeds (see New System's Tags Talk First, and Fast.
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