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THE LIGHTWAVE BLOG

The Lightwave editorial staff uses The Lightwave Blog to share their thoughts on optical communications and whatever else might be the current topic of conversation from cubicle to cubicle. Feel free to add your own opinions. If you'd like to become a guest blogger, contact Editorial Director Stephen Hardy at stephenh@pennwell.com

Archive for 'November 2008'

    Avanex preparing for boarders?

    November 26, 2008 10:17 AM by Stephen Hardy
    Posted by Stephen Hardy

    Paul Bonenfant, communications components analyst at Morgan Keegan & Co., reports that Avanex filed an 8-K after the market closed last night revealing that the compensation committee of the board of directors had approved "change in control agreements" for the CEO (which, as of November 18, is now officially Giovanni Barbarossa, who also serves as company president and member of the board), senior vice presidents of sales and operations, and other VPs (including the interim CFO). The agreements are meant to provide incentives for these executives to remain with the company upon change of control -- in other words, if it's sold or merged.

    This led Bonenfant to wonder if the much discussed hook up with Bookham is on again. He points out that while the combination looks good on paper, it would hold execution risks for Bookham and likely would delay its move toward profitability (as if the current economic situation hadn't done that already).

    On top of Bonenfant's concerns, I recall that Bookham chief Alain Couder has repeatedly told me that if he gets involved in M&A, it will be to move into new markets. "My experience in merging two companies with similar product lines in the same market is catastrophic," he told me once . And while the overlap between Avanex's and Bookham's activities isn't 100%, there would be a lot of redundancy in amplifiers and transceivers, as well as in the markets served. (Couder also discussed his M&A philosophy during a video interview at OFC/NFOEC .)

    So if the Bookham/Avanex marriage hasn't happened yet, it may be because Bookham is looking for something else in a partner.

    Gemfire restarts

    November 24, 2008 3:59 PM by Stephen Hardy
    Posted by Stephen Hardy

    Gemfire CEO Rick Tompane reports that his company is back up and running. With the Thanksgiving holiday this week, he plans to bring "the people associated with the fab and equipment" back first. That's likely good news for the folks in Livingston, Scotland.

    Tompane credits cooperation from his customers, who have either accelerated payment terms or increased their orders. Despite discussing the possibility earlier (see post below), Tompane says his customer did not participate in a bridge loan.

    "The bridge was an advance on the financing to fund additional growth since we had doubled our revenue last year and planned to double again this year," he explained i an email. "In this market, both additional financing and growth is uncertain so we have shifted out some new programs and focused on current customers who have been kind enough to increase orders and accelerate payments so that we can keep going."

    Gemfire 'on vacation' after new funding falls through

    November 7, 2008 12:47 PM by Stephen Hardy
    Posted by Stephen Hardy

    PLC-based optical components and technology supplier Gemfire has asked its employees to go on a two-week vacation while it attempts to replace the funds a skittish investor decided not to provide.

    According to company CEO Rick Tompane, a new investor that had been lined up before the stock market crash decided to pull back its offer. Meanwhile, a couple of large customers pushed out their receivables. The combination of the two events has led the company to suspend operations for two weeks while it looks for a new source of funding.

    Tompane says that in informing his customers of the situation, several offered to participate in a bridge loan that would get Gemfire through its current difficulties. He described himself as "pretty optimistic" that such a customer-generated loan will be successfully put in place sometime next week, which is when the two-week suspension is scheduled to end.

    Meanwhile, Tompane revealed that competitors had approached him about acquiring Gemfire. He said that no active discussions along these lines are currently underway, although that might change if the bridge loan fell apart or didn't meet the company's long-term needs.

    As for the company's current investors, Tompane says they are not currently part of the bridge loan effort. He declined to speculate whether they would be willing to make up the difference if the bridge loan fell short of requirements.

    The current hiatus caused considerable uproar in Scotland, where Gemfire has a plant in Livingston (see a BBC story here and a story from the Daily Record here ). Tompane says that UK labor law doesn't allow the "two week vacation" option; the only way to temporarily suspend operations is to shut down the plant, then attempt to recall the workers later. Gemfire would reopen the facility should it succeed in gaining the additional funds.

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Stephen Hardy

Stephen has covered fiber optics for more than a dozen years, and communications and technology for more than 25 years. He is responsible for establishing and executing Lightwave's editorial strategy across its digital magazine, website, newsletters, research and other information products. He has won multiple awards for his writing.

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Stephen Hardy

Stephen has covered fiber optics for more than a dozen years, and communications and technology for more than 25 years. He is responsible for establishing and executing Lightwave's editorial strategy across its digital magazine, website, newsletters, research and other information products. He has won multiple awards for his writing. 

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