Laser Industry Report

Laser Technology sold to shareholder group for $11 million; Defense bill targets medical FEL; GSI Lumonics to stay put in Canada; MORE...

Laser Technology sold to shareholder group for $11 million

Laser Technology (Englewood, CO), which makes laser detectors and other laser-measurement devices, is being sold to a group of its shareholders in a deal valued at $11 million. The company has entered into a definitive merger agreement with LTI Acquisition, a private company whose shareholders include the company's former CEO and president David Williams, the company's former CFO Pamela Sevy, and current board members Jeremy G. Dunne, H. Deworth Williams ,and Edward F. Cowle. Under terms of the proposed merger agreement, LTI Acquisition will purchase 100% of LSR common stock for $2.06 per share.

The deal is subject to shareholder approval and is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Williams initially proposed buying the company in September 2002. At that time, a special committee was formed by the company to consider bids for Laser Technology.

Defense bill targets medical FEL

The $369 billion 2004 Defense Appropriations Bill, which passed the U.S. Senate in late July, includes $18.5 million to support the Medical Free Electron Laser (MFEL) at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN). Vanderbilt University is one of the primary research facilities involved in the MFEL program. The funding commitment represents a $9 million increase over President George W. Bush's budget request.

GSI Lumonics to stay put in Canada

GSI Lumonics (Ottawa, ON, Canada) has shelved plans to move to the United States because the board of directors did not think it could garner the two-thirds of shareholder votes needed to support the decision. The Canadian maker of lasers and laser-based manufacturing systems canceled an Aug. 4 special meeting in Bedford, MA, at which shareholders were set to vote on the move. Although proxies representing more than half of the company's common shares had been submitted by July 31 indicating a vote in favor of the arrangement proposal, this number was not sufficient, according to CEO Charles Winston.

GSI announced the proposed move on June 16, a decision seen as partly motivated by the company's desire to expand its investor base. The company's key executives are already U.S.-based. But the proposal met opposition from Canadian investors who make up a large part of its shareholder base.

News of the company's change of mind came just a few weeks after the company reported improved financials for the second quarter of FY2003 and announced that it is "on the hunt" for acquisitions. For the quarter ended June 27, GSI's loss narrowed to $3.56 million, or $0.09/share, compared to a loss of $11.1 million, or $0.27/share, in the year-ago period. According to Winston, GSI Lumonics has entered a growth phase in which the company plans to use money from businesses sold in the past year to acquire $100 million worth of revenues, consisting of new technologies and new products. Company executives said they are looking to make purchases in the $5 million to $30 million range.

Coherent opens new laser facility in Connecticut

Coherent (Santa Clara, CA) has officially opened its new facility in Bloomfield, CT, completing the consolidation of its CO2 laser business and the completion of the transition of some of its product lines from California to Connecticut. The company's presence in Connecticut began in 2001 with the purchase of DeMaria ElectroOptics Systems (DEOS). This group has become the cornerstone of the company's CO2 laser business, which, when consolidation is complete, will employ 175 people and produce more than 1500 lasers per quarter.

Also in the news . . .

FemtoLasers Produktions (Vienna, Austria) has established FemtoLasers (Harvard, MA), which will be responsible for all activities of FemtoLasers Produktions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. . . . OpTek Systems (Abingdon, England) is expanding its U.K. facilities by 7000 sq ft in response to increasing demand for its precision machining systems and contract laser machining services. OpTek Systems specializes in precision laser-processing solutions. . . . GSI Lumonics (Ottawa, ON, Canada) has signed an agreement with Laser Solution Europe (Milan, Italy) making Laser Solution the exclusive distributor for GSI Lumonics' industrial-laser products in Italy, Italian-speaking Switzerland, and Malta. . . . The Optical Society of America awarded its $10,000 New Focus Student Award for outstanding achievements in semiconductor and laser research to University of Central Florida graduate student Michael Mielke. Mielke has been working on a low-cost way to generate multiple beams from a single laser and has a patent pending on the process he developed.

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