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OmniVision shareholders back buy-out

27 Jul 2015

Acquisition of the imaging sensor firm by Chinese private equity group still subject to regulatory approval.

Shareholders in OmniVision Technologies, the Nasdaq-listed provider of imaging sensors that is subject to a Chinese private equity buy-out, have voted overwhelmingly in favor of the deal.

At a special meeting of stockholders convened last week, more than 97 per cent of the votes cast approved the planned $1.9 billion cash acquisition, equivalent to $29.75 per share.

Led by Hua Capital Management, the acquisition still faces a number of regulatory hurdles before it can be completed, including antitrust reviews in both the US and China, as well as clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US. The OmniVision board had already approved the sale in May.

OmniVision said that it now expected the deal - one of several recently announced buy-outs of Western photonics firms involving Chinese private equity (see related stories) - to close before the end of its current fiscal year, which runs until April 2016.

The Santa Clara-headquartered company uses foundry partners to produce image sensors in huge volumes, for applications in consumer electronics applications like smart phones and tablet devices, and increasingly for vision systems in cars and for medical use.

For its full fiscal year 2015, it posted sales of $1.4 billion, down from $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2014. Net income of $94 million was down only marginally on the previous year's total.

Fluctuating business
When announcing those results in May, CEO Shaw Hong highlighted the dynamic market fluctuations that the company was subject to, telling investors:

“We saw a great deal of changes in our business in fiscal 2015. Our pursuits of opportunities in emerging markets and our efforts in diversifying our supply chain have yielded favorable results. We have also made significant progress in advancing our technologies, which ultimately resulted in the introduction of our most advanced PureCel-S products.”

Released back in March, the PureCel-S combines stacked-die chip technology with a pixel size of 1 µm to deliver 16 megapixel image resolution for smart phone and tablet applications.

The company believes that the market for those devices will double over the next two years as consumer electronics companies start adopting the higher-resolution format en masse.

Senior product marketing manager Kalai Chinnaveerappan said at the time: "The OV16880 is the industry's first 1/3-inch 16-megapixel image sensor, putting it in the forefront of this high-growth market segment. The sensor enables slim devices to transition from a 13-megapixel to 16-megapixel camera while maintaining excellent image quality and pixel performance."

More recently, OmniVision has teamed up with Fujikura and Precision Optics Corporation to help develop a tiny CMOS imaging module designed specifically for endoscopy applications.

The module produces 400x400 pixel images at a rate of 30 frames per second from a package with an outer diameter of just 1.6 mm, and is said to be suitable for a wide range of endoscopic devices - from bronchoscopes for lung examinations to laparoscopes used in keyhole surgery applications.

Medical imaging is seen by the company as a key growth application, as well as one that can command higher profit margins than the highly competitive consumer electronics sector.

Hyperion OpticsABTechMad City Labs, Inc.HÜBNER PhotonicsLASEROPTIK GmbHIridian Spectral TechnologiesLaCroix Precision Optics
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