Safran to buy Motorola biometrics unit

Paris-based Safran, through its Sagem Securite subsidiary, plans to purchase the Printrak biometrics business unit of Motorola Inc. Although its terms were not disclosed, industry sources estimated the value of the acquisition at about $200 million.

Sagem and Motorola are two of the four major vendors participating in the FBI's Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

The new Sagem-Motorola combination will "clearly be the top AFIS vendor worldwide in terms of market share, and should be able to achieve some economies of scale," said Jeremy Grant, an analyst with Stanford Group Co. investment firm. "But while the two units should be a stronger entity together, they will also face some near-term challenges in consolidating staff and technology."

Motorola's biometrics unit also was coveted by L-1 Identity Solutions, Grant said.

Motorola, of Schaumburg, Ill., ranks No. 61 on Washington Technology's 2008 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.