Harris Broadcast: Deal Process “Proceeding As Planned”

August 30, 2012 by Dave Haynes

The leadership at the broadcast communications division of Harris have sent a note around to staff providing an update on where things are at with the parent company’s plans to sell the business unit off.

A copy found its way to my Inbox. The summary: things are moving along, some big boys are looking, and a deal is expected to be done by year’s end, with the Harris brand retained.

The note from president Harris Morris says the Harris exec team and sales guys have seen a pile of airports in the last four months, meeting with customers and partners, explaining what was up and calming any concerns.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Once provided with a solid understanding of what the news means, our customers have expressed strong support and look forward to the benefits this exciting transition will bring to our business and to theirs.”

The note says a transition to new ownership won’t necessitate a new brand. “… we are very happy to announce that we will have the ability to retain the Harris brand following the close of the sale. This is great news, both within our organization and for the industry. The Harris name has a long, storied history, and the brand is regarded very highly across both our broadcast and digital signage markets — as evidenced in many postings we’ve seen on industry message boards announcing the divestiture. This announcement also clearly reinforces Harris’ commitment to seek a high-quality buyer for the business; someone capable of upholding the Harris brand.”

Harris is working with investment banker Morgan Stanley to manage the sale of our business, and the deal process is described as well underway.  While we are not at liberty to divulge specific company names, we can share with you that there has been strong interest from an impressive list of blue-chip potential acquisition candidates. We can also assure you that the company that acquires the Harris Broadcast Division will be committed to the forward thinking needed to keep developing the industry’s most innovative technology, the leadership to continue growing our business and a laser focus that will benefit our valued customers and partners.

Morris closes the note by reiterating “that our valued relationships remain our top priority. The global Digital Out-of-Home/Digital Signage team will continue to work diligently to ensure our dedication to our customers and partners remains steadfast, our execution to fulfill commitments is flawless, and our progress against strategic objectives remains focused.” 

Interesting on a couple of counts.

The timing of the note comes as a death watch builds on the 7-Eleven Digital OOH network that is thought to be running on fumes because of skimpy ad sales and revenue shares that ain’t happening. As the software vendor and deployment partner, Harris had a MASSIVE role in seeing that network marketed and rolled out at a dizzying pace in the past two years. That needs a little positive counter-balancing. OK, a lot.

It’s also interesting because it is sort of a reminder from Harris that they’re still out there. The note specifically CCs Denise MacDonnell, who runs the digital signage group. The timing of the divestiture announcement was probably great in many respects, because summer started and sales activity slowed. Now we’re knocking on September, and things start rolling again.

I’ve no idea which blue chips would be chasing the acquisition (though it won’t be Cisco or HP). There’s certainly lots of software companies unofficially for sale, though Harris brings a lot more to the table.


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