Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Fleet management technology company Control Instruments has concluded a $3,5m move to buy 51% of Texas-based Tripmaster, a supplier of onboard computers to the trucking market.

The acquisition gives Control Instruments a chance to tackle the world's largest fleet management market and, if the move is handled successfully, it should be able to grow its fleet management and service businesses rapidly, the company said yesterday.

The deal includes an option to buy Tripmaster's remaining shares over three years.

The initial $3,5m will be settled in cash, with the remaining 49% costing a maximum of $10m, to be calculated according to the future profitability of Tripmaster.

Control's directors say Tripmaster is a well-recognised brand in its market segment in the US and worldwide. For the year ended December 2004 it turned over $8,7m and recorded after-tax profit of $223000.

Control Instruments designs and manufactures the intellectual property behind onboard fleet management computers that have been sold under the Siemens brand for nearly 10 years.

The Siemens deal does not cover the US market and Control Instruments now intends to sell its fleet management computers in the US under the Tripmaster brand.

That should fill a niche where Tripmaster is not active and should prove complementary to Tripmaster's products, the companies believe.

Tripmaster also owns patented technology for state line-crossing calculations that will be incorporated into Control Instruments' products.

The companies together have installed 250000 onboard computers in more than 40 countries.

Control Instruments is still trading under a cautionary, as other negotiations that may affect its share price are taking place.

The share price closed unchanged at R6 on the JSE last week.