LONDON Electronic paper display technology pioneer E Ink Corporation (Boston, Mass.) is set to be acquired by Prime View International (PVI) , one of Taiwan's leading suppliers of small and medium sized displays and itself a developer of ePaper display modules.
PVI has bid about $215 million for all the assets of E Ink, and says the combined group will "expand capacity and develop improvements for ePaper display screens that are easy on the eyes, long-lasting, and highly portable."
Scott Liu, Chairman and CEO of PVI, said: "The world is searching for green technology that saves energy and cuts waste and still provides an outstanding experience.
"E Inkís electronic paper meets those needs, especially in electronic publishing and mobile displays. The people in both companies will unite to provide the world's best digital reading experience."
The deal is the latest in PVI's strategy to transform the company and focus on electronic paper displays. In 2005, PVI acquired the ePaper business of Philips Electronics and partnered with E Ink to provide displays for electronic books including the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle 2 and Kindle DX. PVI also invested heavily in dedicated driver chips and touch screens for ePaper, as well as flexible displays, which will be marketed later this year.
Last year, the group bought a 74 percent stake in Hydis Technologies of Korea, quadrupling capacity for the transistor backplanes used in ePaper.
With the move, PVI gains substantial intellectual property and employee talent, while securing supply of a critical component. Meanwhile, E Ink will get access to increased operating funds to boost production and accelerate new technology and product developments.
Russ Wilcox, co-founder, President and CEO of E Ink Corp. suggested: "Combining E Ink and PVI creates a single public company that is dedicated to electronic paper. With a common ownership structure, we can get closer to customers around the world, streamline the supply chain, and speed up new product development."
E Ink will remain headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. and plans to expand its employee base from 127 to 150 people during this year.
PVI will finance the acquisition with an equity placement and a convertible bond offering led by Taiwanese securities firm KGI. The transaction is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009.
E Ink sales were $18 million in the first quarter of 2009, up 157 percent over the same quarter in 2008.