Robert C. Pini
Semiconductor Laser International Corp. has signed an agreement with a German venture capital group to provide it with an equity investment of $2 million to $2.75 million. Bmp Mobility AG Venture Capital, based in Berlin, has purchased 2 million shares of new SLI common stock and will purchase another 650,000 to 1 million shares of new, nonvoting convertible preferred stock in April and May. The initial purchase represents about 16 percent of the outstanding SLI shares.
The investment is part of bmp Mobility's broader strategy to buy minority stakes in laser makers with complementary business. In parallel, the company has invested in LG Laser Graphics GmbH in Kleinostheim, Germany, which manufactures Nd:YAG and argon-ion pump lasers and power supplies. Laser Graphics will buy SLI products and distribute them in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. "We try to take minor investments and bring the players together," said Lars Kaper, bmp Mobility consultant.
The two-stage agreement set share prices for SLI stock at 37.5 cents in the initial purchase for a total of $750,000. Shares in the second transaction will be priced at $2, for a minimum total of $1.3 million. "It's certainly going to help us out tremendously with this distribution network now in place in Germany to expand our market base," said Geoffrey T. Burnham, SLI president.
Burnham said the investment would provide SLI with working capital for developing products for Laser Graphics and other European companies, such as a 7-W, 808-nm device used to pump solid-state Nd:YAG lasers, expected to be in production sometime this summer. He said the distribution arrangement will also involve products that SLI has developed but that have not been widely marketed in Europe.
A subsidiary of bmp Aktiengesellschaft Venture Capital and Network Management based in Berlin, bmp Mobility has 25 investments in biotechnology, information, communications, medicine and laser technology.