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Spectra-Physics Lasers Goes Public

Photonics Spectra
Jan 1998
Jennifer L. Morey

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Longtime laser innovator Spectra-Physics Lasers Inc. (SPL) last month sold 2.4 million shares of common stock.
Revenues estimated at $22.3 million from the sale of stock will be used for general corporate purposes, including working capital and capital expenditures, according to the prospectus on the initial public offering.
The stock sold Dec. 12 at $10 per share. Besides corporate purposes, the prospectus noted that the company could use a portion of the net proceeds for business acquisitions, although it has no commitments for such a transaction.
Patrick Edsell, president of SPL, told Photonics Spectra that parent company Spectra-Physics AB of Stockholm, Sweden, made the decision for the American firm to go public in an effort to optimize the corporation's capital market value.

Restructuring the organization
In preparation for the public offering, Spectra-Physics AB reorganized its Lasers and Optics Group, which comprises SPL; Opto Power Corp. of Tucson, Ariz.; Spectra-Physics Laser Data Systems Inc., also of Mountain View; and overseas subsidiaries. Under the reorganization plan, SPL assumed all of the group's assets and liabilities, including contractual rights and obligations.
At completion of the offering, Spectra-Physics AB will retain 13 million shares, or 82.4 percent, of its subsidiary's outstanding common stock, giving it the ability to control the outcome of all matters requiring stockholder approval. In addition, some SPL employees will receive a total of nearly 371,000 shares, according to the prospectus, under a restricted stock plan agreement as reparation for the cancellation of some Opto Power stock options.
NationsBanc Montgomery Securities Inc. of San Francisco and Cowen & Co. of Boston are the lead underwriters for the offering.
Spectra-Physics Lasers was founded in 1961. It resolved lawsuits with competitors SDL Inc. and Uniphase Corp., both of San Jose, Calif., in 1997 and 1994, respectively. The company still faces environmental claims related to chemical discharges, including a 15-year-old matter that is expected to end with a $2.1 million to $4.3 million Superfund cleanup at a former property.

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