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Bookham Gets a New FocusBookham Gets a New Focus

Trying to expand its non-telecom business, Bookham is buying New Focus for stock worth $190M!

September 22, 2003

2 Min Read
Bookham Gets a New Focus

Bookham Technology Plc's (Nasdaq: BKHM; London: BHM) acquisition spree isn't over yet, judging by this morning's announcement that the U.K. components maker has signed a definitive agreement to buy New Focus Inc. (Nasdaq: NUFO), a U.S. vendor of photonic equipment for non-telecom markets.

Bookham will mint 84 million new ordinary shares as part of a share-for-share transaction estimated to be worth approximately £117.6 million (US$190.5 million) -- making this its largest acquisition to date.

Provided it is approved by the shareholders of both companies, the deal should close in December.

At least one industry expert thinks Bookham has gone bonkers. "I can't imagine why they're doing it," says Rob Plastow, an independent analyst and former founder of tunable laser startup Altitun. "I would have thought they had more than enough on their plate already," referring to the ongoing work of consolidating the company's earlier purchases.

Plastow was critical of Bookham's earlier acquisition of the optical components division of Marconi Corp. plc (OTC: MONIY). "Two turkeys don't make a Christmas hamper," he quipped at the time. (See Bookham Gets a Bargain.)

Bookham went on to also acquire the optical components division of Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). (See Bookham Buys Nortel's Components Biz.)

These two purchases were aimed at enabling Bookham to rival JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) as an optical components powerhouse. But the latest transaction has quite a different aim. Faced with the ever shrinking size of the components market, Bookham is now trying to reduce its exposure to telecom.

"On a pro forma basis, as if the two businesses had been combined for the first six months of 2003, Bookham’s non-telecom revenue contribution would increase from 6% to 20%," the company said in a statement this morning.

"We believe the acquisition of New Focus will enable us to achieve greater economies of scale, increasing manufacturing and cost efficiencies, while reducing our market risk and giving us greater financial strength," said Bookham's CEO Giorgio Anania.

Sounds good in theory. But it's worth noting that both Bookham and New Focus are loss-making -- and that Bookham has yet to demonstrate that it can successfully integrate any of the companies that it's acquired.

— Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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