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SDL Joins JDS Uniphase

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2001
Stephanie A. Weiss

Integrated optics and low-cost amplets are two major goals for photonic component provider JDS Uniphase Corp. after government and shareholder groups approved the $13.5 billion acquisition of semiconductor laser diode supplier SDL Inc. last month.

Based on an offering of 3.8 JDS Uniphase shares for each SDL share, the final tally illustrates just how far photonics stocks have fallen since summer, when the companies announced what was then a $41 billion acquisition plan.

JDS Uniphase's stock tumbled $2.13 to $38.50 on Feb. 13, the day that the acquisition became official. Analysts attributed the drop to warnings -- released the same day -- that the company would miss sales and earnings targets in the third quarter.

SDL founder and chairman Don Scifres, now co-chairman of the JDS Uniphase board, said a key goal for the combined company is the development of sophisticated integrated optics.

"I'm ... looking forward to taking our combined technology toolkit and creating a truly integrated optical circuit on a wafer," Scifres said. "This has been my goal for over 30 years, and this merger should help to enable this dream to come true."

Co-chairman Jozef Straus confirmed the company's commitment. "The days of a system on a chip have always seemed to be very far away," he said. "But with this merger, I believe we have significantly condensed the time frame."

Another goal will be to produce low-cost amplets -- low-power erbium-doped fiber amplifiers -- for metro and other price-sensitive markets. Although analysts suggested that the volume market price point for such a device is about $1000, Scifres said that even at current prices of $3000 to $4000, "there's a lot of interest."

A final goal will be to produce devices for 40-Gb/s and higher data rates, he said.

The company announced that it is restructuring into two groups. Scifres will be president of the Amplification and Transmission unit, and Jay Abbe will be president of the WDM and Switching, Thin Films unit.

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