3M to acquire Cogent Systems

Pasadena, Calif. (Aug. 30, 2010) -- 3M is planning to acquire Pasadena-Calif.-based biometrics company Cogent Systems for $943 million. The planned acquisition was announced this morning by both firms following the signature of a definitive agreement of purchase. The acquisition brings 3M into the biometrics business, which is a new business for the firm, but one related to 3M's existing product and solution areas in its 3M Security Systems Division.

Mention 3M to most consumers and they're likely to think of products like Post-it notes, Filtrete air filters, and Scotch tapes. 3M, however, has been moving ever deeper into the business of safety and security, and today the company is as much about identification products and document security as consumer products. 3M today offers solutions and products for ID card security and document reading, including an e-passport reader solution.

The purchase of Cogent would bring in a full suite of biometric solutions to 3M; including fingerprint, palm, facial and iris recognition. Cogent Systems' core biometric abilities are in the area of automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS), a digital identification tool used by law enforcement for handling suspects, prisoners and even crime-scene prints. Cogent, however, also has provided solutions for government document security and biometric-based facility access control, including PIV technology used for government IDs. Recently, Cogent's facial recognition technology founds its way into select HP miniature laptops for users authentication. Cogent's website notes that the company can also provide specialized government database work typically focused on AFIS deployments.

Mike Delkoski, vice president and general manager of 3M Security Systems Division said that, "Adding Cogent Systems' products to our business strengthens our product portfolio and services in high security credential issuance and authentication systems and positions 3M's business in law enforcement applications. It also expands our reach into access control and other commercial ID and authentication applications."

Cogent Systems' founder and CEO Ming Hsieh said that that the future acquisition by 3M "can accelerate our growth and extend our reach in global border control markets, law enforcement and commercial applications."

Hsieh's company had revenue of approximately $130 million in 2009 and employs roughly 500 persons. Offices for Cogent are in the U.S. as well as Austria, Canada, China and the United Kingdom. A press release noted that Hsieh will stay on following the acquisition as "an integral part of the combined business."