Hawke's Bay wildlife-tracking company Sirtrack has been sold to a Canadian company, making it part of the biggest wildlife telemetry company in the world.
Sirtrack achieved worldwide publicity recently after it placed a transmitter on Happy Feet, an Antarctic penguin found sick on the Kapiti Coast. Happy Feet's progress was able to be tracked on Sirtrack's website after it was released into the Southern Ocean.
Lotek Wireless bought Sirtrack from Crown Research Institute Landcare Research.
Sirtrack, founded in 1986, has seen its products deployed on more than 550 species in more than 70 countries. It offers a range of tracking solutions including VHF transmitters, GPS and satellite collars, proximity collars, marine GPS, and satellite transmitters. Its 35 staff are based in Goddard Lane in Havelock North.
Lotek Wireless has already designed and manufactured bird, fish and wildlife monitoring systems. The Ontario-based company also has offices in Newfoundland, the United Kingdom (Biotrack Limited), and Seattle (BioSonics Telemetry Inc).
Both Sirtrack and Lotek also assist clients with system selection, equipment training and data analysis.
Jim Lotimer, president and CEO of Lotek Wireless, said the purchase offered Lotek a broader array of products and services to assist in animal monitoring around the world. "This alliance allows us to expand our markets and continue with our passion for the environment," he said.
Lotek acquired Sirtrack to expand their market reach, specifically in Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Sirtrack was the first telemetry company to appoint a distributor based in Africa.
Landcare Research chairwoman Jo Brosnahan said Landcare had been looking to sell Sirtrack for "some years".
"We wanted the best future for Sirtrack and were looking at what value Landcare could continue to add," she said.
"It was better for the company to be involved with a company that was already active internationally. We really didn't believe we were the appropriate owners anymore."
It is is not unusual for Crown-owned entities to sell subsidiary companies. In 2005 government-owned Meridian Energy sold Victorian hydro and wind power business Southern Hydro to Australian Gas Light for A$1.425 billion. Brosnahan declined to release the sale price of Sirtrack to Hawke's Bay Today.