Qualcomm to sell Omnitracs fleet management unit

The business, one of Qualcomm's first, will continue operating under private equity ownership

Qualcomm has agreed to sell its Omnitracs fleet management subsidiary, one of its first businesses and one of the earliest vehicle information networks, to a private equity company for US$800 million in cash.

The buyer, Vista Equity Partners, said it plans to keep running Omnitracs and expand its product offerings. Vista will acquire all Omnitracs operations in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. The deal is expected to close during the final quarter of this year.

Vista is a long-term investor in software and other technology-related businesses, with offices in San Francisco, Chicago and Austin, Texas, according to a press release. Last year it acquired British financial services software company Misys.

Qualcomm started Omnitracs in the late 1980s, supplying devices for installation in fleet vehicles that collected information and sent it to management via satellite. The system is designed to help transportation and logistics providers with mobile asset management, safety, compliance and efficiency. Omnitracs has more than 10,000 customers across the Americas and Europe, according to the company's website.

So-called M2M (machine-to-machine) communications is expected to play a growing role in mobile communications over the next several years. Meanwhile, vehicle telematics is migrating from commercial to personal vehicles, with several automakers developing systems to link cars to the Internet for entertainment, communications and monitoring.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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