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Halma Acquires Ocean Optics

Photonics Spectra
Jul 2004
Paula M. Powell

As of June, Ocean Optics Inc. of Dunedin, Fla., has become a member company of Halma plc, a safety and environmental technology group based in Amersham, UK. According to Halma chief executive Stephen O'Shea, the manufacturer of miniature fiber optic spectrometers, fiber optic accessories, optical fiber, thin films and optics will retain its current name and Florida headquarters. He anticipates no layoffs related to the acquisition.

Ocean Optics, a private company started in the early 1990s by the inventors of the first palm-size fiber optic spectrometer, has estimated net assets of $6.1 million. Profits before tax for 2003 were $4.6 million on sales of $25.2 million. Halma agreed to purchase the company for $25 million in cash, with additional payments of up to $25 million contingent upon the business's profits growing more than 100 percent through March 2006.

The holding company has six specialist business groups: fire and gas detection, water leak detection and UV treatment, elevator electronics, process safety devices, high-power electrical resistors, and ophthalmic optics and specialist technology. It appears to be bolstering this last group with the recent acquisition of both Ocean Optics and Diba Industries Inc., a Danbury, Conn.-based firm that supplies specialty components, tubing assemblies and fluid transfer subassemblies for the medical life sciences and scientific instrument industries.

The Ocean Optics acquisition has the potential to be a win-win situation for both parties, even considering the stringent profit margins the UK firm appears to set for its companies. Halma brings to the table expanded opportunities for operational and R&D support -- for example, market infiltration -- while Ocean Optics bolsters the optical technology under the holding company's umbrella in the areas of optical sensing and networking, display optics and biophotonics technologies.

O'Shea said that the spectrometer technology expands on and complements sensing products already offered, including those from its water leak detection and UV treatment group. Equally critical is the good will that the electro-optical equipment manufacturer brings to the table, especially in optical sensing, where it has reportedly sold more than 40,000 systems since its inception.
The company, winner of a 2003 Circle of Excellence Award for its LIBS2000+ laser-induced breakdown spectrometer, also has an active new product platform with the introduction of as many as six products so far this year.


GLOSSARY
optical fiber
A thin filament of drawn or extruded glass or plastic having a central core and a cladding of lower index material to promote total internal reflection (TIR). It may be used singly to transmit pulsed optical signals (communications fiber) or in bundles to transmit light or images.  
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