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7 October 2008


Sofradir to acquire IR equipment maker Electrophysics

Sofradir of Chatenay-Malabry, near Paris, France, which manufactures infrared (IR) detectors for military, space and industrial applications, is to acquire Electrophysics of Fairfield, NJ, USA.

Founded in 1986, Sofradir specializes in cooled IR detectors based on mercury cadmium telluride (MCT), with products including scanning and staring arrays (covering the entire infrared spectrum) as well as quantum well infrared detectors (QWIPs) developed in cooperation with Thales. With about 20-25% of the world’s MCT second-generation detector market, Sofradir is ranked number 2 for units delivered. Sofradir’s subsidiary Ulis (created in 2002) designs and manufactures low-cost uncooled amorphous silicon IR detectors for commercial applications. Combined, 470 staff generated revenue of $165m (€110m) in 2007. Customers include the US Army, Thales, Sagem, Selex, Thales Alenia Space, ESA (European Space Agency) and FLIR Systems.

Founded in 1969, Electrophysics designs and manufactures IR equipment for imaging applications including portable thermal imagers as well as night-vision modules for low-light photography and videography, selling to industrial, scientific, law enforcement and US Department of Defense customers. It also develops image acquisition and analysis software and a range of application-specific accessories, including optics. Annual revenue is $12m (€8m).

The acquisition (which should be completed within 30 days) is expected to provide a US platform to better serve the North American IR detector and module market, which is estimated to be world's largest at $1bn (€700m), and to accelerate the development of Sofradir and its subsidiary ULIS in the North American market. Together with ULIS, Sofradir has shipped 40,000 IR detectors this year. The acquisition of Electrophysics should help it ramp up sales and enhance the service it provides to US customers, Sofradir reckons.

“This strategic foothold will boost Sofradir and ULIS's growth by bringing us closer to customers in the US, who will have ready access to our advanced cooled and uncooled IR technologies,” says Philippe Bensussan, chairman & CEO of Sofradir and chairman of ULIS. “Having a US base of operations will allow us to be more cost competitive and responsive to our customers,” he adds. “By joining the experienced team of 35 at Electrophysics, Sofradir is taking an important step forward to the benefit of the customers of both companies,” adds Bensussan.

“It will be a big plus to have Sofradir’s talent, technology and expertise here on North American soil,” says Electrophysics’ president Frank Vallese, who will continue to head the US operation. “Sofradir has an exciting product development roadmap and an established history of delivering high-quality IR detectors. We foresee a wide range of market opportunities in public safety, security and defense, supplying both OEMs and system integrators.”

See related items:

Sofradir launches compact cooled 1/2 TV format MWIR detector

Sofradir promotes deputy director of uncooled IR detector subsidiary ULIS to MD

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