This article will appear in the July 2011 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter.
Over the course of the last few months, a series of business transactions that consolidate a group of companies in different international regions into a single corporate structure focused on providing RFID and related products to libraries have taken place. Each of these companies brings a different set of assets and strengths to a broader organization to constitute a new company with a worldwide impact on the library RFID industry. The transactions span Europe and North America, and involve a variety of incumbent companies including Bibliotheca RFID Systems (based in Switzerland), Integrated Technology Group (North America), and Intellident (United Kingdom and France). The business transactions result in three operational companies in different geographical regions that comprise a new virtual company bound together under unified ownership and executive management.
The transactions bring all of the companies under a single global holding company called Library Solutions BV, incorporated in The Netherlands. Library Solutions BV is majority owned by One Equity Partners , a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co, (http://www.oneequity.com/) a major firm with over $8 billion in investments. Other minority shareholders include Shai Robkin, who also owns Vernon Library Supplies. Three different business transactions have taken place:
Bibliotheca RFID Systems
Bibliotheca RFID Systems, based in Cham, Switzerland, was acquired by One Equity Partners in April 2011 from a group of private investors. This company will continue to operate under its original name and management structure.
One Equity Partners also purchased the assets of Integrated Technology Group, a division of Vernon Library Supplies, from Shai Robkin to form a new company called Bibliotheca ITG. The assets of Bibliotheca, Inc., the subsidiary of Bibliotheca Library Systems in North America will be acquired by the newly incorporated company. Bibliotheca ITG will be based in Atlanta, GA.
Bibliotheca, Inc. is operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems, with headquarters in Huntsville, AL.
Through this transaction, Robkin became partial owner of Library Solutions BV, the higher-level holding company. Shai Robkin now serves as Chief Executive Officer of Bibliotheca ITG and is part of the senior executive team for Library Solutions BV. Lamar Jackson, previously President and CEO of Bibliotheca, Inc, now serves as Director of Sales for Bibliotheca ITG. Robkin purchased Vernon Library Supplies from its founders in 1984, and launched Integrated Technology Group in 2004.
On June 1, 2011, One Equity Partners purchased Intellident, Ltd, with headquarters in South Manchester in the United Kingdom, from Chamonix Private Equity. This transaction also includes Ident SAS, previously the French subsidiary of Intellident. Bibliotheca Ltd., the subsidiary of Bibliotheca RFID Systems in the UK, will be merged into the operations of this new company, which will operate under the name Intellident, and will focus on the United Kingdom and central Europe. Darren Ratcliffe, previously Sales and Marketing Director of Intellident Ltd., will serve as Managing Director of the merged company. Jim Hopwood, one of the founders and previously Managing Director of Intellident, joins the executive leadership of the combined company.
Intellident was previously owned by LINPAC Group, a major conglomerate of businesses related to plastic packaging. At the end of 2010, Intellident was one of five LINPAC business units that were considered non-core assets and divested through a transaction where they became portfolio companies of Chamonix Private Equity.
A Global RFID-focused Organization
All three of these companies operate as part of a new organization, Library Solutions BV. Each of the three operating companies will focus on their own geographic regions and bring along their own products, research and development efforts, and manufacturing capacity.
The combined group will be led by the principals from each of the constituent companies: Matthias Joos, CEO of Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems; Jim Hopwood, formerly Managing Director of Intellident; Dr. Simon Plankenhorn, Chief Financial Officer of Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems ; and Shai Robkin, formerly owner and president of Integrated Technology Group. Additionally, Gary Potts, Thomas Ehrle, Phillip Sykes, Urs Jaeggli and Andy Chadbourne will also participate in the management of the global company.
Although the changes in ownership structure have been executed, the process of operational alignment and integration has just begun. The existing personnel and other assets of Bibliotheca, Inc will be consolidated into Bibliotheca ITG and the assets of Bibliotheca, Ltd will be consolidated into the Intellident’s organization.
This organization brings together the research and development, customer support resources, and the engineering and manufacturing capacity of three major companies, along with the deep financial resources of One Equity Partners, creating a new formidable competitor in the library RFID industry.
The new combined company becomes one of the largest worldwide providers of RFID products to libraries. 3M Library Services operates on a similar global scale. In the United States other somewhat smaller competitors in this arena include EnvisionWare, Tech Logic (owned by The Library Corporation), and Libramation. Demco distributes RFID and self-service products from The Finnish company PV Supa, which also distributes its products through EnvisionWare and increasingly markets and supports its products directly in North America. While the business transactions have consolidated the RFID industry both within North America and internationally, a vigorous competition remains between the giants, 3M Library Systems and the three Library Solutions BV companies as well as the these other players.