Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Scientific camera maker Andor Technologies closes deal with Oxford firm

Scientific camera maker confirms £176m takeover by Oxford-based firm

An Andor worker in the production room (main); (left) Andor's headquarters

One of Northern Ireland's previous few publicly listed companies has been taken over in a multi-million pound deal by an Oxford-based firm.

After a brief courtship that began in early summer, scientific camera maker Andor said it would be recommending to its shareholders to accept the £176m offer from Oxford Instruments, a spin-off company from Oxford University which specialises in producing technology for research and industry.

Andor, which itself is a spin-off from Queens University, employs around 200 people at its west Belfast base, and the same again in locations around the world.

It's listed on the Alternative Investment Market, or AIM, in London.

The deal marked the end of a tense period of negotiations, initiated by a £140m offer, which was turned down by the Belfast company's board after being branded "disappointing".

That prompted an increased offer of £159m before the final offer, equivalent to 525p a share, by Oxford Instruments late last Friday night, which piqued Andor's interest.

But it wasn't until minutes before the 5pm deadline last night, one set by the English company, that the deal was finally announced.

Colin Walsh, chairman of Andor, said the decision to recommend the offer rested on two important factors.

"First, the offer recognises the important role which our highly capable and professional staff have played in building Andor into the unique entity we have today, and creates a framework in which our staff can continue to thrive and grow the business under new ownership," he said.

"Secondly, after several months spent carefully evaluating our strategic alternatives, the board believes that the offer represents the best possible means of maximising shareholder value in the short to medium term."

And he believed the combination of the two companies' resources was a good fit.

"We believe Andor is a "one of a kind" business and, like Oxford Instruments, is an outstanding example of how the very best in UK science can be successfully commercialised across global markets," he said.

"We are confident that Andor will add tremendous value to the growth plan for the combined business."

Chairman of Oxford Instruments plc, Nigel Keen, was also impressed by Andor's workforce.

"The acquisition of Andor is an exciting development for Oxford Instruments as we expand our capabilities in the fast growing Nano-Bio field," he said.

"Andor is a high quality business with a strong track record of innovation and a high quality workforce and will be a great fit with our business."

Workforce are reassured over jobs in wake of news

The future of Andor's 410-strong workforce is safe following the company's takeover by Oxford Instruments, the Belfast company's chief executive has said.

Conor Walsh said it was the first point addressed when the board began considering the offer, and was one they had received reassurance on.

"We asked, 'where do we fit into your plans'," Mr Walsh said in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph.

"They (Oxford Instruments) have been very clear that they recognise the value of the people here and recognise their importance to this business."

He said news of the takeover was a good day for everyone in Andor, which employs around 200 people in Belfast, and the same again in locations around the world.

"They're a spin-out in the same way that we are and have a similar heritage to Andor," Mr Walsh said.

"They're run by a CEO who is a technical guy himself and realises that investment in a facility like this is a core part of our strength."

He paid tribute to Dr Donal Denvir, one of the original founders of Andor 25 years ago and now its technical director.

One of the other founders, Dr Hugh Cormican, now chief executive of Cirdan Imaging, said it was a day of "mixed feelings".

"Oxford Instruments is a company I know quite well and a sound company.

"If Andor was going to be bought over, I'm pleased it was to be by it.

"But there would have been hope that Andor would stay as a company in its own right and grow and develop. So this is a day of mixed emotions.

"It is a sad day, as Andor was one of the few listed companies in Northern Ireland and is now going the way of many others, and being bought over.

"But if it was going to be bought by anyone, I'm happy it was by Oxford Instruments," he added.

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