Apple’s fingerprint-authentication deal under fire

Karen Haslam
3 August, 2012
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Apple’s purchase of fingerprint-authentication software developer AuthenTec is being called into question by an investor, who thinks the company settled for too little in its deal with Apple.

Apple is said to have agreed to pay US$356 million in cash, or US$8 a share, to make AuthenTec a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple. The agreement is pending regulatory approval.

Craven Lee claims that the AuthenTec directors failed in their duty to their investors and wrongly accepted Apple’s bid.

Lee’s complaint read: “AuthenTec, if properly exposed to the market for corporate control, would bring a price materially in excess of the amount offered,” reports Bloomberg.

Should AuthenTec accept an offer from a different company it would have to pay Apple US$10.95 million in cash.

The deal gives Apple access to patent licenses totalling US$115 million. The deal also reflects the realisation that we need stronger security for mobile devices as the mobile industry moves toward e-wallets and locked-down phones for enterprises.

AuthenTec specialises in a variety of security techniques that could help make the iPhone and iPad more secure, such as content security and fingerprint recognition–a feature the security company sells to computer makers such as Dell, Lenovo, and Asus. AuthenTec also recently entered into an agreement with archrival Samsung – currently the two companies are in court in the Apple v Samsung patent trial.

When Apple rolls out iOS 6 in spring, the revamp of the iPhone/iPad operating system will have a new feature called Passbook. In its initial iteration, Passbook will be used to store travel passes, coupons, and loyalty cards. But some critics think the new function suggests the next iPhone, expected to debut in September, will include an exclusive payment program based on near-field communication (NFC) built into Passbook, although Apple is said to be concerned about mobile payment security.

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