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Taiwanese IPC vendor snaps up PC/104 originator

Mar 20, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

[Updated 3:45] — A Taiwanese industrial PC vendor plans to acquire one of the oldest U.S. embedded board and system vendors. Adlink Technology of Taipei will pay $20 million for all outstanding common shares of Ampro Computer, a privately held 25-year-old company known for originating the PC/104 and PC/104-Plus standards.

The deal depends on “specified conditions” being met, but share purchase agreements have already been executed by Ampro shareholders and Adlink International, a wholly owned holding subsidiary, the companies announced. No timeframe for closure was given.

Perhaps in anticipation of the acquisition, Ampro recently bolstered its top-level management card by bringing back Rick Lehrbaum (pictured at right) as CTO. One of Ampro's co-founders, Lehrbaum devoted a dozen years to the company as VP of engineering, EVP of strategic development, and interim president before leaving to found LinuxDevices and the DeviceForge family of technology news sites now owned and operated by Ziff Davis Enterprise.

Ampro said the merged company would benefit from Ampro's expertise in board-level embedded computers, along with Adlink's low-cost manufacturing capabilities. In a statement, Lehrbaum said, “This combination makes us unbeatable.”

For its part, Adlink said it hopes to leverage Ampro's U.S. distribution channels, customer service operation, and “logistic centers” in order to increase stateside sales of its own embedded computing products, which include boards and systems targeting test and measurement, automation and process control, gaming, communications, medical, network security, and transportation markets. Jim Liu, Adlink CEO and president, stated, “Adlink will gain access to Ampro's unmatched expertise in developing 'extreme rugged' board-level embedded computers, as well as its strong and mature U.S. sales channel.”

Additionally, Adlink appears interested in consolidating the design, R&D, and manufacturing operations of the two organizations, especially in the ruggedized sector, in order to improve cost structures and enable diversification into “other potential end-application markets,” it said. The companies' respective ODM (original design manufacturing) and marketing services departments represent another potential area of synergy, Adlink said.

Joanne Mumola Williams, Ampro CEO, stated, “We are excited about this opportunity to grow, lower our costs, and bring our high-quality, standards-based modular embedded computing technologies into new markets. Our customers will be pleased with these significant new engineering, low-cost manufacturing, and support resources.”

According to DigiTimes, Liu last month told investors that the company aims to eclipse $100 million in annual revenues within three years, a growth trajectory that would probably make it Taiwan's second-largest industrial PC vendor. The company's audited 2007 financial report reflected consolidated revenue growth of 2.3 percent, along with pre-tax and net profit growth above 30 percent.

Adlink and Ampro, along with Congatec, recently collaborated on COM Express PNP (plug-and-play), an open industry initiative aimed at improving interoperability among COM Express modules and carrier boards. Adlink's recent Linux-friendly products include video capture cards, ETXexpress modules, EPIC SBCs (single board computers), and COMs (computer-on-modules). Ampro's recent Linux-related products include EPIC SBCs, Core2 Duo based COMs, low-power Geode SBCs, and Celeron-based COMs.

Other mergers and acquisitions so far this year in the embedded board and equipment space include the merger of Arcom and ADS, and Emerson Network Power's acquisition of Motorola's Embedded Communications Computing group.

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