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Tessera sells micro-optics assets to FLIR

12 Aug 2013

Thermal imaging firm pays $15 million for “a significant portion” of the business unit.

Imaging company FLIR Systems has acquired a large chunk of the assets belonging to Tessera Technologies’ micro-optics business, in a transaction valued at $15 million.

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the unit had been considered as “discontinued” by Tessera since November 2012, when the company announced a strategic restructuring of its “Digital Optics” business, and said that it would focus efforts on its emerging MEMS optics technology.

The move was also intended to dramatically cut Tessera’s spending, after the company posted an operating loss of nearly $90 million on revenues of only $41 million in 2012. For FLIR, the deal should help it to target high-volume applications of thermal imaging more effectively.

Thomas Lacey, Tessera’s interim CEO, said of the FLIR deal: "This transaction is one of the substantive structural changes we announced we would make in the second half of 2013 as we continue to refine our focus on our differentiated MEMS-related technologies."

Originally purchased in 2006, the sold business unit produces a variety of diffractive optical elements, refractive optical elements, and integrated micro-optic sub-assemblies - offerings that Tessera decided were no longer part of its long-term strategy.

200 patents
Though it did not detail exactly which parts of the business it had sold to FLIR, Tessera said previously that it owned both the land and building for the ISO-registered Charlotte facility, and had planned to retain those specific assets. “All other assets are held for sale,” wrote the firm in its most recent filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

FLIR says that the purchase price included fabrication equipment and more than 200 patents either granted or pending and associated with the design and production of complex optical surfaces, substrates, and low cost-components.

Those components are used in a wide array of applications, including FLIR’s core areas of security and surveillance, as well as photolithography, data communications, biophotonics equipment, and 3D gesture recognition.

FLIR CEO Andy Teich said: "Bringing this low-cost, wafer-scale micro-optics technology to our operations provides us significant capability and cost advantages as we move into high-volume markets for thermal imaging.”

"We look forward to adding these proprietary processes, manufacturing capabilities, and experienced engineering and production personnel to FLIR."

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