Vancouver-based nLight acquires firm

High-performance laser maker still mulling going public

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Vancouver-based nLight Corp. has acquired Arbor Photonics, Inc., a small company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., nLight disclosed Monday.

Scott Keeney, nLight's president and CEO, would not discuss financial details of the transaction, although a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released last week indicated that his company was raising $3.8 million for the purchase. Keeney said the deal was signed before Christmas.

Keeney also would not disclose the number of employees at Arbor Photonics. The company will maintain a presence in Ann Arbor, and it's undetermined whether any employees will relocate to Vancouver, Keeney said.

"It's a small acquisition for us," Keeney said. NLight has 450 employees, including 240 based in Vancouver.

NLight develops and manufactures high-performance lasers for advanced materials processing, defense, and medical uses. Arbor Photonics is a pioneer in what is called 3C fiber technology. Its patented high-power fiber lasers can be used in a wide range of new material processing, defense, and medical applications, according to nLight. The higher power, higher performance lasers are effective in removing materials, particularly in medical applications, Keeney said.

Jake Bell, nLight vice president and general manager, said in a statement that Arbor Photonics' fiber technology "is critical to enable advanced applications that require high peak-power and single-mode beam quality."

NLight continues to assess whether the company should go public but has made no decisions, and Keeney offered no timeline. The company, now a dozen years old, had attracted $110 million in equity financing before the most recent $3.8 million in funding. "We grew last year, and I'm still optimistic about where the market is going" Keeney said.