RealTime IT News

Aether Goes Trucking

Aether Systems, Inc. has completed a $15 million deal to acquire certain assets and licenses of @Track Communications, Inc. , a provider of wireless-based vehicle fleet management and mobile-asset-tracking solutions. Under terms of the sale, @Track sold to Aether assets and related license rights to its Platinum Service software solution, 20/20V, and TrackWare asset and trailer-tracking products.

In addition, the Richardson, Tex.-based @Track and Aether, which maintains headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., have agreed to form a strategic relationship with respect to @Track's long-haul customer products. Under that agreement, @Track will assign to Aether all service revenues generated post-closing from its HighwayMaster Series 5000 customer base. Aether, in turn, has agreed to reimburse @Track for the network and airtime service costs related to providing the HM5000 service.

The two companies have also agreed to work jointly in the adaptation of the Minorplanet Vehicle Management Information (VMI) technology for the potential distribution of VMI by Aether to the long-haul-trucking market. At the closing of the transaction, @Track received $3 million in cash, of which $1 million will be held in escrow and released to @Track over a 12-month period. @Track also received a note for $12 million payable in either cash or, at the option of Aether, convertible preferred stock in three equal installments of $4 million on April 14, May 14, and June 14 of this year.

The preferred stock may then be converted to common stock using a prescribed formula that compensates for fluctuations in the stock price so @Track is able to convert and sell in the open market Aether common stock equal to $12 million.

"This agreement with Aether is another key step in @Track's business strategy to focus its resources on aggressively penetrating the metro marketplace with Minorplanet VMI, which we believe is the key to @Track's future growth," said Jana Ahlfinger Bell, @Track's president and chief executive officer. "In addition, we will continue to provide mobile communication solutions to member companies of SBC Communications, Inc., our largest metro marketplace customer. At the same time, we will help to ensure that our long-haul trucking customer base will continue to receive quality service and support for their HM5000 mobile units, as well as provide the opportunity for these customers to move to the next-generation products and services of Aether, a company that is strategically committed to the businesses of long-haul trucking data and voice communications and intelligent asset-tracking solutions."

@Track Communications provides wireless communications products and services by combining wireless data and voice technologies with GPS-satellite-tracking capabilities. The company offers mobile communications, emergency dispatch and fleet management systems to a wide variety of companies, including member companies of SBC Communications.

"Aether Systems is committed to serving the wireless communications needs of the transportation industry, and this agreement is another important step toward this goal," said Bill Hannon, president, Aether Transportation and Logistics. "The agreement enables us to diversify our suite of solutions and services and offer more options to prospective customers and our newly expanded customer base. This is great news for Aether and the trucking industry."