Management buyout at Oxford Lasers

DICOT, ENGLAND-Oxford Lasers has announced that its management team now owns 100% of the equity in the company.

DICOT, ENGLAND-Oxford Lasers has announced that its management team now owns 100% of the equity in the company. Previously the company had been majority owned by private equity backers.

Founded in 1977, Oxford Lasers was the brainchild of Oxford University researcher Colin Webb. Although Webb has retired, co-founder Andrew Kearsley is still with the company, most recently as research director and deputy chairman.

“We are absolutely delighted,” said John Baker, chief executive of Oxford Lasers. “The company has an outstanding range of new products and services and we are ideally positioned to supply a complete range of laser solutions to our customers. We have had one of the most successful periods in the company’s history and have clear plans to continue this strong growth. In 2007 we are planning several major new product launches.”

The company has had mixed fortunes over its long history. When cash flow turned negative in the 1990s, Oxford Lasers had to raise £4.5 million by selling equity and taking loans. But as Webb was once quoted as saying, “Whenever we got into trouble, we always invented our way out of it.” Investment in new products has paid dividends, and laser micromachining and imaging systems have provided a core business that covers a wide range of high technology sectors. The micromachining systems can machine a wide range of difficult materials and produce features down to 1µm; the imaging systems produce size, velocity and acceleration data for clouds and sprays of micron sized particles moving at high speed.

Earlier this year Oxford Lasers commissioned a new laser micromachining facility intended for high-volume production of custom parts. At the same time, the company’s existing micromachining facilities were upgraded to enable higher positional accuracy. This expansion has helped fuel a 60% growth in sales over the past 12 months, and it has been estimated that the company’s turnover this year will be in the region of £4 million.

Oxford Lasers also has new products, including the Probedrill series and the advanced Picolase micromachining system installed at Cardiff University’s Manufacturing Engineering Centre (MEC; Cardiff, UK) as part of the MicroBridge project. The Picolase1000 will be used to push forward product miniaturization and develop new manufacturing platforms for the next generation of microsystems.

“We will be working closely with the MEC throughout the five-year project to develop and support picosecond laser micro processing (and) provide specialist training in micro and nanotechnology,” said Martyn Knowles, industrial division director at Oxford Lasers.

The benefits from this jump in technology will have implications across a range of sectors, including communications, optics, and the automotive industry, added Frank Marsh, MEC marketing director.

-Bridget K. Marx

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