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Merger Trend: Tires to Photonics?

Photonics Spectra
Jan 2001
Pirelli is a big name in fiber optics -- and tires. Uniroyal makes light-emitting diodes -- and tires. Now BFGoodrich has acquired the company that made the optical systems for the Hubble Space Telescope. What is it about photonics and tires?

OK, we admit that we have stretched the truth to make a point. The Uniroyal and BFGoodrich tire brands are actually products of Michelin Corp., having been sold off several years ago as Uniroyal Technology Corp. of Sarasota, Fla., and the BFGoodrich Co. of Charlotte pursued more high-tech chemical and systems development. But the fact remains that these current and former tire manufacturers have found a new and comfortable life in photonics.

BFGoodrich announced in November that it would acquire Raytheon Co.'s optical systems unit, a group comprising about 700 people in Danbury, Conn.; Lexington, Mass.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and San Jose, Calif. The unit produces precision optical and sensor systems such as those in the space telescope and in several military aircraft. Revenues in 1999 were $152 million.

BFGoodrich officials acknowledged that much of the Raytheon unit's technology was development for military applications but said they plan to pursue commercial opportunities. The company's Aerospace Div., for example, is interested in the Raytheon unit's vehicle control systems, electro-optical remote sensing and spectral analysis for possible application in commercial aircraft.

In announcing the acquisition, neither company's officials would divulge the amount of the transaction, saying only that it is all in cash. They expected it to close by the end of 2000, pending government review.

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