Breaking News: Tele Atlas to Acquire GDT

By Joe Francica

Today, Tele Atlas N.V. issued a press release indicating that it had received financing, through a number of investment partners, to acquire Geographic Data Technologies, Inc. (GDT), the Lebanon, New Hampshire company founded in 1980 by Don Cooke.GDT, one of three companies providing digital street centerline data and other network-based attribution, along with geospatial solutions such as geocoding, has been a leading supplier to the geographic information system technology sector.According to the release, "Tele Atlas has received a $210 million (approximately €175 million) irrevocable financing proposal from a consortium led by Oak Investment Partners ("Oak") and New Enterprise Associates ("NEA") which will expire on Wednesday at midnight (Amsterdam time), April 28 th, 2004.The consortium, which also includes TeleSoft Partners, Meritech Capital and IAM, has proposed a $210 million investment in Tele Atlas in order to finance the $100 million acquisition."

My take on this is that I think it makes a lot of sense.It is a consolidation that had to take place given the downward price pressure seen in this market segment.In an previous interview with Judson Green, NAVTEQ CEO, I had discussed the "Street Wars" taking place that pitted these three companies against one another.It is, of course, now a more serious threat to NAVTEQ.And given that NAVTEQ has not been as successful selling into the GIS market as has GDT, they may be forced to rethink their marketing strategy.In addition, Microsoft is making it difficult to differentiate the value of streets when you can acquire a complete set of either U.S.or European data in separate MapPoint editions (with geocoding), the commoditization of street data has already been going on for some time.A combined Tele Atlas/GDT company now has significant reach in the U.S., Europe and Brazil and makes it an even greater threat to impinge upon NAVTEQ's dominant position in the in-vehicle navigation market.It will a development worth watching and we will keep you informed.

Published Thursday, April 29th, 2004

Written by Joe Francica

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