September 23, 2013 2:45 AM, EDT

Qualcomm’s $800 Mln. Sale of Omnitracs On Track for Nov. 1 Close, Executive Says

By Neil Abt, Managing Editor

This story appears in the Sept. 23 print edition of Transport Topics.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — An executive with Omnitracs Inc. said the planned $800 million sale of the company by Qualcomm Inc. to Vista Equity Partners appears on track to be completed by Nov. 1.

“We have a company that purchased Omnitracs and wants to see that investment grow and be successful,” said Adam Kahn, Omnitracs’ director of fleet solutions marketing. “From a customer’s perspective, I would be very excited about that. That means they will do things to make the product as good, or better, than it has been. The intent is not to lose money.”

Kahn spoke to Transport Topics here Sept. 16 during the McLeod Software user conference. It was Omnitracs’ first presence at an industry event since the sale was announced in late August.

“We continue to be focused on transportation,” Kahn said.

If the deal is approved by federal regulators, Vista Equity will gain the trucking industry’s largest provider of onboard communication systems.

At the user conference, the companies jointly announced new integration capabilities between McLeod’s LoadMaster software and Omnitracs’ mobile-computing platform in response to the federal government’s hours-of-service rule changes.

Kahn said the updates are aimed at using driving data, such as available hours, and nondriving data, such as detention time, to allow fleets to more easily overcome sudden changes by recalibrating dispatch or routing plans.

As an example, he cited a potato hauler who expected to pick up produce from multiple fields. However, when an unexpected delay occurs, the integrated system could alert the fleet that a second truck is required for those other fields and the first truck should cut its original route short.

Kahn said the combination of Omnitracs’ HOS application with McLeod’s Feasibility module guarantees that drivers and their fleet managers are seeing the same HOS countdown clock, eliminating the chance of disagreement.

“Our latest integration enhancements help our shared customers navigate the increasingly complex regulatory landscape while improving the driver and fleet manager experience at the same time,” said Tom McLeod, president of the company.

As for the Omnitracs sale to private equity firm Vista Equity, Kahn said the company remains in a holding pattern until the deal is completed.

He told TT what he said he was sharing with fleets attending the McLeod user conference: “We are continuing to operate as we have been, and there have been no formal announcements of structural changes or team changes.” That was the general message that Norm Ellis, vice president of transportation and logistics sales, told TT in the days following announcement of the sale.

Said Kahn: “My anticipation is that [Vista Equity’s management team] has a plan of how they want to grow their investment; and we have a pretty good knowledge of our customers and our products. What will come out in the next short period is how those two blend together.”

If cleared to combine, the deal also would mark wireless technology firm Qualcomm’s departure from the U.S. truck technology business. The company was a pioneer of the segment in the late 1980s with its satellite-based system.

On April 1, Qualcomm renamed its trucking business Omnitracs, making it a subsidiary. It previously was a Qualcomm division named Qualcomm Enterprise Services.

Kahn said in the event the deal with Vista does not close, Omnitracs would continue to operate as a Qualcomm subsidiary.