Coherent acquires Lumera Laser, expands ultrafast laser portfolio

Adding Lumera and its picosecond lasers for microprocessing expands Coherent's reach into materials processing, part of a growing trend among laser industry heavyweights.

(Source: Lumera Lasers)
(Source: Lumera Lasers)

Santa Clara, CA - Coherent (NADSAQ: COHR) says it has acquired privately held Lumera Laser (Kaiserslautern, Germany) for approximately $52M all in cash. That's about 1.5x Lumera's projected calendar 2012 revenues, according to Coherent, which puts Lumera's annual sales at about $26M, or 3% of Coherent's fiscal 2012 sales ($800M).

Lumera Laser develops and manufactures picosecond lasers for microprocessing by cold ablation, which removes material without the thermal side-effects such as burrs and microcracks that conventional laser cutting methods can cause, which require subsequent and costly finishing steps. Lumera's Rapid series of picosecond lasers target applications including various examples of laser drilling and surface modification; examples include microstructuring of semiconductors and solar cells, dicing and separating LEDs, structuring a material surface to reduce friction, and processing brittle materials such as glass and semiconductor substrates.

Lumera "complements our internal programs and other recent acquisitions targeted at the rapidly expanding area of short-pulse micromaterials processing" as well as nonindustrial areas such as ophthalmic surgery, stated Coherent president/CEO John Ambroseo. Combining Lumera's application expertise with Coherent's global sales and service network will "provide customers with the broadest selection of ultrafast industrial solutions." Coherent EVP Mark Sobey separately noted the two firms have a combined installed base of >500 industrial picosecond systems in production.

Those recent acquisitions are Innolight and Midaz, which
were picked up in early November. Innolight (Hanover, Germany) offers short-pulse lasers for industrial applications such as silicon processing, as well as continuous-wave lasers for scientific applications such as atom trapping. Midaz's (London, UK) technology enables simple amplifiers to be incorporated in a broad range of laser products. Coherent billed that combination as enabling commercial low-cost sub-nanosecond pulsed lasers (IR, green, and UV) for microelectronics manufacturing.

This deal underscores a trend gaining momentum in the laser industry: bigger players adding ultrafast-pulse capabilities. Given its cash position ($225M reported at the end of the September quarter), Coherent has been interested in looking at M&A to obtain complimentary IP and expand its reach in markets such as materials processing, noted Stifel Nicolaus' Patrick Newton in recent research note. Similarly, IPG's recent acquisition of JPSA fulfilled a desire to expand into micromachining and picosecond lasers, and also through flexing its cash war-chest.

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