Oerlikon-Bührle Holding AG, the parent company of Balzers Process Systems, said it is acquiring a 27% stake in ESEC, Cham, Switzerland, and has plans to ultimately takeover the back-end toolmaker's operations.
As a first step, OBH said it is acquiring the bearer shares once held by Roche Finanz AG, which represents roughly 27% of ESEC's equity and 13% of its voting shares. OBH also has obtained an option to acquire voting shares now held by Karl Nicklaus, ESEC's chairman. These shares represent 26% of ESEC's equity capital and 63% of votes. The option expires in mid-2001, and if exercised would make OBH ESEC's majority shareholder.
Upon exercising the option, OBH said it “would bid for the publicly held shares” of ESEC in accordance with statutory regulations. “Our stake, coupled with plans for a subsequent takeover, will give OBH considerably greater access to the high-growth, yet cyclical, semiconductor equipment market,” noted Willy Kissling, president/CEO of OBH.
Current plans call for a pooling of Balzers' and ESEC's competencies in both the front- and back-end arenas. “The trend towards miniaturization means that front- and back-end semiconductor manufacturing processes will converge in the longer term, bringing greater importance to system solutions that incorporate multiple process steps,” OBH said.
ESEC executives could not be reached for comment, but a company spokeswoman in the US said ESEC has been working closely with OBH on the share ownership changes. — Christine Lunday, SST Online editor