Austria’s ams AG (SIX: AMS), a global semiconductor manufacturer and leader in high performance sensor and analog solutions, said it agreed to acquire Singapore-based Heptagon Advanced Micro Optics Pte. Ltd., a global leader in micro optics, for an upfront payment of $570 million, comprising $64 million in cash and the remainder in ams stock, with additional “substantial deferred earn-out” payments of up to $285 million.

“Combining ams and Heptagon creates the clear #1 in optical sensing technologies and fast-tracks our innovation capabilities,” said Alexander Everke, CEO of ams.

“As a result, we expect ams to drive the optical sensing agenda in the years to come and broaden its market reach. Together with our leadership position in our other sensing focus areas Environmental, Imaging, and Audio, this strategic transaction is going to transform ams into the global leader in sensor solutions,” Everke added.

At closing, current Heptagon shareholders including GGV Capital, Nokia Growth Partners, Jolt Capital, CID Group and other venture investors, as well as management, and employees are expected to hold a 20% equity stake in ams.

The deal is expected to close within the next three months subject to certain approvals and customary closing conditions.

Heptagon provides complete 3D imaging, illumination and optical sensing solutions for smart devices and the internet of things, with over 2 billion units shipped and 20 years of industry firsts in miniaturizing and integrating complex hardware and software systems.

Heptagon has built a leading market position as provider of world-class integration and high value packaging solutions in optical sensing. The company was founded in 1993.

Currently focused on the consumer market, Heptagon is a major supplier of applications for mobile devices requiring high volume optical packaging at very small form factors. Leveraging its advanced technology, Heptagon sees excellent growth opportunities with its current customer base, which includes a key customer serving the smartphone and mobile device markets.

Earlier this year, Heptagon said it developed the world’s smallest near-field optical sensing module based on the company’s state-of-the-art wafer-level miniaturization technology. The new sensor has a thickness of only 350 microns and a 2 sq mm surface area, which includes a built-in illuminator, light sensor, electronics, cross-talk prevention features, and a lens system.

Heptagon’s headquarters and manufacturing are based in Singapore while its R&D center is in Rueschlikon, Switzerland. The company has over 830 employees including around 120 engineers and 500 manufacturing staff. Heptagon’s valuable IP portfolio includes more than 250 patent families, primarily in optical packaging.

Heptagon’s current 12 month revenue run rate is around $90 million at negative operating profitability due to current under-utilization of production capacity. Heptagon expects substantial revenue growth over the coming years starting mid-year 2017, based on its existing revenue and capacity pipeline and customer commitments.

To prepare for this expected growth, Heptagon has already embarked on a major expansion of its Singapore manufacturing capacity with a total capital investment of more than $250 million in 2016/2017.

Including Heptagon, ams said it targets business growth of 30% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for the coming three years, combined with a profitability target of 30% operating (EBIT) margin from 2019.

AMS products are aimed at applications which require extreme precision, accuracy, dynamic range, sensitivity, and ultra-low power consumption. The company’s product range includes sensors, sensor interfaces, power management ICs and wireless ICs for customers in the consumer, industrial, medical, mobile communications and automotive markets.

AMS headquarters are in Premstaetten near Graz, Austria. Key research and development facilities are based in Austria, in Plano,Texas, and in 16 other design centers worldwide, with 2,100 employees in over 20 countries. The company, formerly known as austriamicrosystems AG, operates subsidiaries in Europe, the United States, Japan, India, China, Korea, and the Philippines.

Photo: Alexander Everke, CEO of ams.

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