SMT, a Durham company that provides data and on-screen graphics for televised sporting events, has acquired a smaller rival known for its technical innovations for an undisclosed sum.
SMT announced Wednesday that it has acquired Sportvision, a privately owned company with 70-plus employees in Fremont, California, and Chicago that has been awarded more than 70 patents. Among other things, Sportvision is known within the industry for introducing the first virtual first-down marker – called Virtual Yellow 1st & Ten – that enables viewers of a televised football game to see where the offense needs to be to get a first down.
Patricia Hopkins, vice president of marketing at privately owned SMT, said the acquisition will enable the company to accelerate its growth by expanding its product portfolio and boosting its ability to create next-generation products. SMT had about 290 employees, including 110 in Durham, prior to the Sportvision deal.
The Sportvision brand is being phased out.
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“Sportvision will be absorbed by SMT and it will be rebranded SMT by the end of the year,” Hopkins said.
SMT is taking on all of Sportvision’s employees except for the seven-person management team headed by CEO Hank Adams that make up the Chicago office, Hopkins said. As a result, the Chicago office is being shut down.
SMT founder and CEO Gerard J. Hall called the acquisition of Sportvision, which like SMT has won a number of Emmy awards for technical achievement, “a watershed moment.”
“Although we have been marketplace competitors for many years, SMT has always had a tremendous respect for the applied science, the cutting-edge technology and the creative innovation that runs through the DNA of the Sportvision team,” Hall said in a statement. He added that Sportvision “enjoys an unparallelled and industry-wide reputation for delivering actual game-changing solutions.”
Founded in 1988, SMT makes sports broadcasts more entertaining and informative via data and graphics shown on-screen. Its technology has been used for broadcasts of the Olympics, the NCAA March Madness Tournament, NBC Sunday Night Football and a lengthy list of other sporting events.
SMT has added about 30 employees over the past year and its revenue rose 10 percent in 2015, Hall said.
ABB to keep division HQ here
Equipment maker ABB has chosen to retain its division that sells to utilities, a major Raleigh employer, in defiance of pressure to separate itself from the business exerted by an activist shareholder.
The Swiss company announced Tuesday that, after it explored selling or spinning off its power grid division or folding it into a joint venture, it concluded that holding onto the unit was the best way to “unlock maximum shareholder value.”
ABB also said it was taking steps to drive the division’s growth and boost its profitability, including the formation of a pair of corporate partnerships focused on large electrical substations and offshore wind.
The power grid division’s U.S. headquarters is in Raleigh, where the unit employs 500 workers at N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus.
The decision is good news for the region, said company spokeswoman Melissa London.
“We’re continuing to grow in North Carolina and in the area,” London said. “We’re continuing to hire.”
ABB employs about 2,000 workers across North Carolina, including 300 at its headquarters for the Americas region in Cary. The company, which employs 20,000 in the United States and 135,000 workers worldwide, makes equipment for utilities and heavy industry, including robots, instruments, motors and transmission components.
A Swedish activist shareholder, Cevian Capital, has been pressuring ABB to break off the power grid division. It contends ABB is too complex and difficult to manage.
“There’s a lively exchange going on,” said CEO Ulrich Spiesshoffer, according to Bloomberg News. “That does not mean we take the recommendation of every shareholder. That’s not how we run ABB.”
Last month ABB sold a high-voltage cable business within the power grid division, but that represented only about 5 percent of the unit’s revenue and didn’t appease Cevian.
Bloomberg News contributed to this story.