Oerlikon sloughs off chip biz

Jan. 27, 2009 – Seeing no more synergies with its now-core technical and strategic areas, Germany’s Oerlikon says it has sold its Esec unit to Dutch firm BE Semiconductor, and expects a management buyout of its etch business.

Esec — which was acquired in 2000 (by what was then Oerlikon-Buehrle), later renamed as Unaxis and renamed back to Oerlikon in the fall of 2006 — makes die attach tools (bonders, flip-chip) and wire bonding products, and Oerlikon now says this “does not provide any synergies with the group’s core technological competences in the coating/thin-film sector,” it said in a statement. BE Semi, meanwhile, is already an “established player” in semiconductor assembly and die bonding systems. About 70 workers in Oerlikon Esec’s main site in Cham, Switzerland (out of 280) will be impacted by the sale, plus another 80 worldwide; another 70 employees will see extended reduction in hours.

Oerlikon didn’t indicate a pricetag on the sale, but BE Semi in a PR noted that it would incur about 8% share dilution; with roughly 33.7M total BESI shares outstanding priced at €1.43/share (before the deal was announced), that calculates out to around €3.86M. An analyst quoted by Reuters speculated Esec’s sales would have been US ~$86M-$130M with a $17M-$25M EBITDA loss in 2009.

Simultaneously, Oerlikon says its etch business will be spun out via management buyout (though the wording suggested final terms are yet to be agreed upon), in a bid to narrow the focus of its Systems business on core PVD processes, serving semiconductor and optical disc sectors, while expanding into “clean technologies” and “advanced nanotechnology.”


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