Optics Industry Report

Oct. 1, 2001
Schott Lithotec opens calcium fluoride crystal production plant; Davin Optronics buys Coherent optronics business; Vertex sold to Union Miniere...

Schott Lithotec opens calcium fluoride crystal production plant
Despite the continuing downturn in the semiconductor industry, optical material and component manufacturer Schott Lithotec AG (Jena, Germany) opened its third calcium fluoride crystal production facility in Jena last month. Schott Lithotec has held its ground during the recession in the semiconductor industry, according to the company, and this newest facility is expected to provide the necessary production capacity as demand for the development and production of next-generation integrated circuits using 193- and 157-nm technology increases. The company, which is a subsidiary of Schott (Mainz, Germany) and was established in 1998, invested about US$45 million in the plant.

Davin Optronics buys Coherent optronics business
Davin Optronics Ltd. (Watford, England) has acquired the manufacturing, design, and office facilities of Coherent Ealing Europe Ltd. (Watford, England), a subsidiary of Coherent Inc. (Santa Clara, CA). The purchase more than doubles the amount of Davin's manufacturing space to 37,000 sq. ft. and provides the company with access to in-house precision mechanical manufacturing. Under the terms of the acquisition, Davin will take over the design and manufacture of Coherent Ealing's optomechanical product range, as well as the medical and industrial business segments. However, Coherent will retain ownership of the Coherent Ealing name and the Coherent Ealing optomechanical distribution business headquartered in Auburn, CA.

Vertex sold to Union Miniére
Optics startup Vertex (Bretagne, France), a spin-off of the University of Rennes, has been acquired by Union Miniére (Brussels, Belgium), an international metals and materials group. Union Miniére plans to use Vertex's technology to make lower-cost precision optical lenses for infrared system applications. The product range will compete mainly in the noncooled infrared systems market, which is projected to increase five-fold over the next five years to reach a value of US$1.7 billion in 2005.

Anristu invests in optical-component manufacturing facility
Anristu Corp. (Richardson, TX) has invested more than $30 million in a Tanasawa, Japan-based facility that will be dedicated to the research, development, and manufacture of optical components. The 86,000-sq.-ft. building is equipped with a 21,000-sq.-ft. cleanroom, movable lithography system, ion-etching machine, and electronic beam-lithography machine. This is the second component facility to be opened by Anritsu this year. The other facility was opened in San Luis Obispo, CA, to manufacture optical modules, as well as microwave/RF components and assemblies.

Polaroid receives bank waiver extension
Instant imaging leader Polaroid Corp. (Cambridge, MA) recently received a one-month extension of waivers on its bank loan covenants, as well as a $10 million increase in availability under its domestic credit facility—enhancing the company's near-term liquidity and operational stability. Separately, Polaroid extended secured creditor status to its bondholders in a move to help facilitate the restructuring of its debt. Under the terms of the bank agreements, Polaroid's domestic and international loan covenant waivers that were due to expire on October 12 will now expire on November 15. "The $10 million increase in credit availability and the waiver extension are positive steps," reports Polaroid Executive Vice President and CFO William L. Flaherty. "These actions support the company's continuing ability to conduct its day-to-day business activities and meet its obligations to suppliers, vendors, and employees."

Also in the news . . .
Guernsey Coating Laboratories Inc. (Ventura, CA), which specializes in thin-film optical coatings, has moved its operations to a larger facility in Ventura, CA in order to meet growing demand. . . . Photonic Materials Ltd. (Bellshill, Scotland), a developer of optical crystals, has secured <10.5 million (US$14.9 million) in financing from various venture capitalists, as well as an additional grant from the Scottish Executive, to focus on product development and manufacturing.

Sally Cole Cederquist

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