Oak Industries explores Lasertron IPO
After first-quarter discussion on the subject with investment bankers and other associates, Oak Industries (Waltham, MA) reported it is considering a possible initial public offering (IPO) of a minority interest in its Lasertron unit (Bedford, MA). An IPO could be followed by a tax-free spin-off, subject to a favorable ruling from the US Internal Revenue Service and approval of the firm's shareholders. Lasertron executives credit strong sales of its 980-nm pump for a large share of a growth spurt. Perhaps the only cloud on the horizon, Lasertron's joint venture in China, Wuhan Telecommunication Devices Co. (WTD), has experienced a delay in customer approvals of its family of next-generation laser transmitters and receivers. As a result, WTD sales declined 53% compared to the first quarter of 1998.
Lucent expands in Pennsylvania, affiliates with North Carolina State University
Lucent Technologies (Murray Hill, NJ) announced a $30 million expansion of its Pennsylvania Optoelectronics division facilities to meet growing demand. The project includes a new 143,000-sq ft laser-manufacturing building near Breinigsville and renovations to an existing wafer and chip facility near Reading. In addition, Lucent has signed a memorandum of understanding with North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC) to enter an affiliate agreement intended to enhance the Lucent portfolio of optical-networking products. Lucent will build a 120,000-sq ft research facility on the university business park (Centennial Campus) for 500 R&D professionals, of which more than 300 will be new employees. In turn, students and faculty will work with Lucent scientists on research projects with real-life industrial relevance.
KMI sees strong growth in DWDM equipment
An ever-growing demand for bandwidth will cause sales of dense-wavelength-division-multiplexing (DWDM) equipment to more than quadruple in the next five years, according to projections from KMI Corp. (Newport, RI). In its latest study, KMI says DWDM sales will rise from $2.2 billion worldwide in 1998 to $9.4 billion in 2004. The report says data traffic is growing at 100% or more each year, driven by deregulation in the telecommunications market, long-distance price declines, and growing Internet use. It predicts, though, that the rate of growth will slow, from 32% in 1998 to 26% in 2004, a compound annual rate of 28%.
LightPath and Kaifa forge switch agreement
In a new venture, LightPath Technologies (Albuquerque, NM) and Kaifa Technology (Sunnyvale, CA) announced plans to jointly assemble and distribute mechanical fiberoptic-switch products. The products will incorporate the exclusive license LightPath secured from Herzel Laor in December 1998 covering 2 x 2 and 1 x N mechanical-switch technology. Planning a swift entry into the market, the companies plan to have the first switch products available for customer field trials in late 1999, with initial revenues expected in 2000.
Qtera raises money for all-optical-network architecture
Raising its total financing to $43 million, optical networking startup Qtera Corp. (Boca Raton, FL) closed its latest round of financing after obtaining $32 million from a group of venture-capital firms. The company is pursuing technology for all-optical networking designed to create a simplified, scalable architecture offering high performance, rapid servicing, and survivability. The Mayfield Fund (Menlo Park, CA) led this latest round of financing and provided $9 million. Battery Ventures (San Francisco, CA) provided the first round of funding.
Also in the news...
Nortel Networks Corp. (Brampton, Ont., Canada) CEO John Roth, speaking at the annual shareholders meeting, caused a flap when he warned that the company might move to the USA if Canadian personal taxes were not lowered because they are driving away hundreds of researchers. . . . SpecTran Communication Fiber Technologies Inc. (Sturbridge, MA) has joined the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium centered at the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Laboratory (Durham, NH) and intends to work with the consortium to verify the predicted performance of its advanced multimode fiber.
W. conrad Holton