Michael D. Wheeler
Hardly a month after opening a $20 million semiconductor laser fabrication plant in Zurich, Switzerland, Uniphase Corp. has struck again. This time, the laser manufacturer-turned-telecom company has snapped up Philips Optoelectronics B.V. as its latest addition in a two-year international buying spree.
Uniphase will acquire the entire Philips unit, based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, including its 300 employees and 60,000-sq-ft semiconductor fabrication facility now under construction. In addition, the company will receive about 70 US and European patents. The deal, expected to close this month, involves a stock swap in which seller Royal Philips Electronics will acquire a minority stake in Uniphase.
With the acquisition, Uniphase moves a step closer to providing one-stop
shopping for its telecom customers. Kevin Kalkhoven, the company's chairman and CEO, said telecom companies are looking for suppliers with broad component portfolios for increasingly demanding applications.
"It's a tremendous situation; there is simply no overlap in these products," Kalkhoven told Photonics Spectra. "What people wanted was better integration at the component level."
Added product lines
Kalkhoven said Philips bolsters the company's portfolio in five categories of components for high-capacity fiber optic networks: semiconductor lasers, modulators, amplifiers, fiber technology and receivers. In semiconductor lasers, Uniphase has offered only one of the three sources -- the 980-nm multimode laser manufactured in Zurich. The Eindhoven plant produces the other two: phosphide-arsenide-based distributed-feedback lasers emitting at 1330 and 1550 nm.
Philips also provides Uniphase with erbium-doped fiber amplifiers pumped by 1480- and 980-nm lasers and gallium arsenide semiconductor amplifiers. Uniphase previously had only lithium niobate devices used in long-distance modulators and now will add semiconductor modulators to its product list. It also will have access to receivers using gallium indium arsenide photodiodes. Uniphase has had no receivers on the market.
The Philips acquisition follows a flurry of activity for the San Jose company over the last six months.
In November 1997, Uniphase purchased Indx Pty. Ltd., an Australian manufacturer of fiber Bragg gratings. In January, it announced the creation of a networks components division to develop products such as channel add-drop modules and dispersion-compensation modules. In April, the company opened a laser fabrication plant in Zurich to increase production of 980-nm diode lasers.