R. Winn Hardin
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- To concentrate its resources on the telecommunications industry, Uniphase Corp. has signed a letter of intent to sell its Ultrapointe subsidiary to Tencor Instruments, a leader in semiconductor inspection systems.
An as-yet-undisclosed cash-for-stock transaction was to have been completed by the end of the year, assuming corporate boards approved a final sale agreement and regulatory agencies gave their blessing. As a result of the purchase, Tencor acquires licensing rights to Ultrapointe's advanced confocal laser microscope technology and automatic defect classification software. Tencor has been the exclusive reseller for Ultrapointe's technology for more than a year.
Tencor executives will integrate Ultrapointe's confocal microscope technology into their wafer manufacture and detection systems.
Meanwhile, Uniphase CFO Dan Pettit sees a bright future for his firm. "The plan for Uniphase is to consolidate its investments into lasers, fiber optic products and telecommunication products," said Pettit. "Basically we've expanded from just being a supplier of modular chips in telecommunication products to entire transmitters, which sell for considerably more money."
During the past year, Pettit said Uniphase has become the exclusive supplier of lithium niobate optical modulator transmitters to Cinea, a $1.8 billion telecommunications company. When asked whether the Cinea deal was the reason for the anticipated 400 percent increase in telecommunications revenues expected for 1997, he said Cinea was just the beginning.
Uniphase reported $69.8 million in total revenues last year.
Started out of co-founder Dale Crane's garage in Mountain View, Calif., Uniphase began by designing, producing and marketing laser subsystems and wafer inspection equipment. It expanded in May of 1995 with the purchase of United Technologies Photonics Inc. of Bloomfield, Conn., when Uniphase executives decided to gamble on the burgeoning billion-dollar telecommunications industry. Uniphase then had access to proprietary lithium niobate optical modulators and 16 patents related to converting electrical signals into optical beams for transmission in fiber optic cable-based systems.
Last year, Uniphase bought GCA Fibreoptics Ltd. of Whitney, Oxford, UK, and Fiberoptic Alignment Solutions Inc. of Chicago for a combined cash and stock value of $8 million. By combining the three subsidiaries into one group and using GCA's wavelength division multiplexer for optical fiber telecommunications, Uniphase's telecommunication group expects to easily replace the $17 million in revenue generated by Ultrapointe last year.