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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Arlington Capital makes robotics play

The private equity group Arlington Capital is making a play to get into the robotics business with a $45 million deal to acquire the defense and security business of iRobot Corp.

The transaction will create a new independent company focused on defense, public safety and security markets while the rest of iRobot will remain focused on the home and consumer market.

Home sales – think the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner – have long been iRobot’s bread and butter. Its percentage of the company's revenue grew from 88 percent in 2013 to 91 percent in 2014, according to the company's most recent annual report. In 2014, the company had $556.8 million in revenue.

The company will release its 2015 results next week, but through its third quarter filings, that trend continued.

With the acquisition by Arlington Capital, Sean Bielat returns to the company as CEO. Previously, he was a program manager and director of business development and ran a $100 million line of business selling iRobot robots to the military, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Tom Frost, the current senior vice president and general manager of the defense and security business, will be president.

“I am thrilled to be rejoining such an amazing organization,” Bielat said in a statement. “As an independent company, we will be focused on our own goals and objectives and pursue the numerous opportunities that lie ahead of us.”

iRobot is considered a leader in the defense market for land-based unmanned vehicles. Its robots have been used for a variety of missions, most notably taking on improvised explosive devices. The company says more than 6,000 of its robots have been deployed worldwide.

Arlington Capital said it plans to continue to invest in the business, including making acquisitions.

The private equity firm is no stranger to the federal market, mostly recently building Novetta Solutions through a string of acquisitions before selling the company to the Carlyle Group in August.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 04, 2016 at 12:42 PM


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