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TomTom Completes Tele Atlas Purchase

UPDATE! Amsterdam, The Netherlands — TomTom successfully completed its year-long fight to acquire Tele Atlas, one of the only two current GPS map companies, and immediately took steps to assure other GPS makers that they will receive accurate and up-to-date maps from Tele Atlas.

The $4.3 billion deal was sealed after TomTom accumulated this week more than 97 percent of Tele Atlas shares. During the past year, TomTom overcame several roadblocks to the deal, including competing bids from rival Garmin and approval from the European Commission.

When the deal was first announced last summer, it sent a shock wave through the industry as personal navigation device (PND) makers who purchase their maps from one of two suppliers — Tele Atlas or Navteq — wondered how the deal would impact their access to competitive maps. A few months later, Nokia announced it planned to buy the second mapmaker, Navteq, for $8.1 billion.

After announcing the conclusion of the Tele Atlas purchase this week, TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn said TomTom and Tele Atlas “will maintain a single map database, and all improvements and data from TomTom will be available to enhance its quality. It makes no sense, commercially or technologically, to have more than one map database.”

In an open letter, Goddijn continued, “Tele Atlas customers’ relationship with Tele Atlas will remain exactly the same,” and said, “All Tele Atlas customers, including TomTom, will have access to the same higher quality maps, at the same time and will pay a comparable price.”

TomTom currently offers a map-share technology that lets users send map change feedback back to TomTom to update maps from its user base of more than 15 million PNDs, Goddijn said, “This information will be delivered to Tele Atlas after the proposed merger to allow Tele Atlas to substantially improve its map creation, enrichment and maintenance process. The improved maps will then be made available to all Tele Atlas’ customers at the same time.”

He added, “We will also speed up the process, and introduce new product features, such as intelligent routing.”

The companies also announced today several planned top management changes including the replacement of Tele Atlas CEO and founder Alain De Taeye by a 20-year technology veteran Bill Henry. De Taeye will join the TomTom board.

Tele Atlas president and COO George Fink will also step down, said TomTom.