Rand McNally &Co., the 123 year-old map and atlas publisher, has signed a letter of intent to acquire Thomas Bros. Maps of Irvine, Calif. The 82-year-old Thomas Bros. is a publisher of print and electronic local mapping products and a pioneering firm in digital map publishing.

"Thomas Bros. has a wonderful brand name," said Henry J. Feinberg, president and CEO of Skokie, Ill. based Rand McNally. Feinberg pointed to the west coast company's "phenomenal product development capability," and said the deal would position both companies "to provide innovative projects in a technological driven industry." Thomas Bros. will continue to operate with its existing workforce in its California facility.

While terms of the agreement were not disclosed, Feinberg said that his company expects that the deal should close by early next year. Feinberg also said that the Thomas Bros. brand would be maintained and that the deal will have no impact on the Calif. company's line of products.