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Halma buys up Labsphere for $14 million

16 Feb 2007

Halma strengthens photonics industry presence to three key subsidiaries with further acquisitions in prospect. optics.org interviews Halma director Keith Roy about the decisions behind the deal.

Labsphere, the New Hampshire, US-based developer of light measurement technology for the past 28 years, has been acquired by Halma, a safety, health and sensor technology group in the UK. Labsphere will join Ocean Optics and Mikropack in the photonics sector of Halma's health and analysis business group.

Unaudited accounts for 2006 show that Labsphere generated revenues of $12.5 million (£6.3 million) and an operating profit of $2.4 million (£1.2 million). The acquisition, which will be immediately earnings enhancing, was funded from Halma's existing cash and debt facilities.

Labsphere has a strong worldwide presence in light testing and measurement and optical coatings. The company's range includes LED, laser and traditional light source light measurement systems; uniform light sources for calibration; and high diffuse reflectance materials and coatings for backlit displays. The evolution of the company's technologies has resulted in multiple patents in LED testing and UV transmittance.

Halma is a holding company of almost 50 worldwide subsidiaries that develop products to "improve people's quality of life". The company's business groups focus on industrial safety, health and analysis and infrastructure sensors.

The Halma photonics companies are established brands with market-leading technologies and products which generate light, condition light and analyze the interaction of light on substances. Their products range from spectrometers to complementary technologies such as chemical sensors, analytical instrumentation, optical fibers, thin films and optics.

The scope of applications ranges from cancer detection to specialized architectural and theatre lighting filters. Halma says the acquisition of Labsphere will create opportunities for technical and marketing collaborations as it continues to grow this sector.

"Labsphere enhances Halma's presence in the growing photonics market and complements our existing businesses where technical and marketing collaboration opportunities exist," said Andrew Williams, Halma's CEO. "Together with Ocean Optics, Halma now has two leading companies in this exciting market where we are well-placed to grow organically and through further acquisitions."

optics.org interviews Halma director Keith Roy

optics.org: Why has Halma purchased Labsphere?

Keith Roy: Labsphere is a financially solid business with excellent growth potential. It has the world leading brand built upon its excellence in light metrology. Labsphere's qualified staff solve the most difficult measurement problems for its customers, helping them improve their products. This capability will ensure the future success and growth of the business.

How will each party benefit from this acquisition?

Labsphere will benefit in a number of ways through technical and marketing collaboration with Halma's other photonics businesses. For example, Ocean Optics, the leading manufacturer of miniature spectroscopy, has a global distribution network capable of providing new routes to customers. Halma's global presence will facilitate new sales and technical support centers through commercial incubation hubs already established.

Halma benefits in a number of ways in addition to profit growth. One of the exciting areas is the applicability of Labsphere unique IPR to other Halma companies providing immediate potential for product performance enhancement.

What is Halma's view of Labsphere's laser/LED expertise and market potential?

Halma considers that Labsphere has first rate knowledge in laser and LED metrology applications. With the obvious growth in consumer demand for these products, the need for well designed test equipment, with performance traceable to National and International standards, will be required.

What will happen to Labsphere now?

Labsphere will continue to operate from its HQ in New Hampshire. Halma commits more to R&D investment than its sectoral peers and this trend will continue. Innovation is a corporate strategic goal of the Group and Labsphere will be encouraged to support this.

Does Halma have any plans to integrate or jointly rebrand Labsphere and Ocean Optics?

Both companies will continue to be branded and promoted independently. That said, we will look for marketing collaborations, such as combining physical presences at trade shows, where appropriate.

What about future photonics or laser acquisitions?

Halma remains very interested in making further acquisitions in the photonics sector, specifically in areas where enabling technology resides with application in a number of different markets.

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