Aether sells trucking group

Sept. 1, 2004
A large investment firm has agreed to buy the transportation division of Aether Systems. Los Angeles-based Platinum Equity, one of the country's largest privately held companies, is paying $25 million for a portfolio of wireless services for the trucking industry, including the MobileMax multimode satellite and terrestrial service and two untethered trailer tracking systems. Fleet customers will notice

A large investment firm has agreed to buy the transportation division of Aether Systems. Los Angeles-based Platinum Equity, one of the country's largest privately held companies, is paying $25 million for a portfolio of wireless services for the trucking industry, including the MobileMax multimode satellite and terrestrial service and two untethered trailer tracking systems.

Fleet customers will notice no change in service or personnel since the sale calls for transfer of all current employees, applications and communications contracts, according to Mike Brown, VP of marketing for Aethers' transportation business.

“They're buying the unit in total, not trying to pull out one or two services from an existing business,” he says. “We maintain the same networks, billing systems, IT structures and everything else connected with the transportation business.”

Typically, Platinum buys operations that do not fit the focus of a parent company and then takes a hands-off management approach, says Brown. The group also often employs strategic partnerships and acquisitions to bolster initial investments, he adds.

Aether originally got into wireless data service for trucking by purchasing the MobileMax system from Motient, which began life as American Mobile Satellite Corp. It later purchased the HighwayMaster cellular-based system, which had been renamed @Track.

That acquisition brought it a trailer tracking system it markets as GeoLogic, which the company later augmented with TrailerMax, a more complex system developed in house.

The sale to Platinum Equity will not be final until approved by Aether shareholders at a special meeting on Sept. 30.

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