3M Co. is getting out of the library systems business to focus on other "core" businesses.
The company that popularized book sensor tape, electronic checkouts and the digital uploading of library e-books has sold the assets of its North American library systems business to One Equity Partners Capital Advisors, officials said Tuesday.
One Equity also agreed to buy the assets of 3M's remaining global library systems business. Terms were not disclosed. The remaining purchase will be completed sometime before Dec. 31.
In all, about 100 3M employees will transfer and become One Equity employees.
The sale of the library systems division ends 40 years in a business that had grown to $100 million in annual sales.
"After a thorough strategic review, we have decided to exit the library systems business and focus on our core businesses such as reflective traffic safety and vehicle identification solutions, and our public security identification and monitoring portfolio," said John Riccardi, vice president and general manager of 3M's traffic safety and security division.
It proved a busy day for Riccardi as he also announced Tuesday that 3M was selling its French-based Faab Fabricauto sign and license-plate fabricator, also so it could focus on other core businesses.
Fab Fabricauto has about $30 million in annual revenue and will be bought by Hills Numberplates Limited. The division specializes in serigraphy and number-printing services for automotive, graphic, signage and industrial sectors. It has 140 employees who will become Hills employees when that deal closes in the fourth quarter. Terms were not disclosed.
Riccardi said the reflective sheeting technology that 3M uses in license plates will remain an important component in 3M's portfolio. Future investments will skew toward more advanced technologies that improve the performance, durability and visibility of license plates around the world, he said.
Regarding the sale of 3M's library systems business, One Equity will gain a global business that lets library patrons check out books at self-serve kiosks and over a cloud-based lending service.
The system also gave patrons access to thousands of digital library books that could be downloaded to a tablet, cellphone or computer. The division also provided libraries with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that read book security tags and helped libraries with circulation, inventory, security and customer service functions.
One Equity Partner Jörg Zirener welcomed the new technological additions.
"3M's library systems will allow us to deepen our presence in the education and library sector and broaden our product offerings in end-to-end automation solutions for public, private and academic libraries," he said. "OEP is committed to investing in and growing this business, so that the industry will continue to benefit from it presence and innovation in the library market."
3M's stock price fell 53 cents a share to close at $145.79 per share Tuesday.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725