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GE to acquire security company

Will pay $900m for California firm

WILTON, Conn. -- General Electric Co. has agreed to acquire InVision Technologies Inc., which makes devices to detect explosives, as well as other security systems, for about $900 million, company officials said.

GE also said it expects earnings to be at the high end of its target range in the first and second quarters. The high targets are 32 cents per share in the first quarter and 39 cents per share in the second quarter.

''Our industrial growth platforms, including security, are growing revenues more than 20 percent over last year, and the broad-based growth in industrial orders and financial services assets that we saw in January and February has continued into March," said GE chief executive Jeff Immelt.

GE said it was offering $50 a share in cash for InVision shares, a 21 percent premium over Friday's closing price.

Shares of InVision jumped $8.10, or nearly 20 percent, to $49.32 on the Nasdaq Stock Market yesterday. Shares of GE yesterday fell 9 cents to $30.51 on the New York Stock Exchange.

James Kelleher, an analyst with Argus Research Corp. in New York, said GE's offer might be a little rich, but it fits GE's interest in the security industry.

''Actual spending has not matched expectations, but then along comes something like the Madrid bombings and everyone asks, `How safe are we?' " Kelleher said.

John Buckingham, a Laguna Beach, Calif., mutual fund manager and publisher of a private investor newsletter, ''The Prudent Speculator," said he had held shares in InVision since it traded in the $1 range and that the deal was a good fit.

InVision is ''an industry leader, but they lacked the economies of scale, the deep pockets of a partner such as GE," he said.

The acquisition by GE Infrastructure, a Wilton-based unit of GE, enhances GE's capabilities in explosives detection and security technologies, GE said.

''This acquisition is a game-changing event for the security industry. Customers can expect sophisticated detection systems that will help them to protect people and critical infrastructure assets," said Bill Woodburn, president and chief executive of GE Infrastructure.

The products will help protect airports and other mass transportation systems, border interdiction and customs sites, high security installations like power plants, chemical plants, and military bases, and entertainment facilities such as sports arenas, GE said.

InVision, based in Newark, Calif., pioneered the development of explosive detection systems in the aviation industry by introducing the first computed tomography technology for checked baggage inspection, company officials said. GE's Ion Track detects explosives and narcotics.

The acquisition is subject to the approval of regulators and InVision shareholders.

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