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Finisar Takes On Agilent

Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR) today announced that it will buy the VCSEL business of Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON) for $75 million in cash (see Finisar Buys Honeywell VCSEL Business).

The deal is significant because it will help Finisar compete against Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) in the transceiver market for datacom equipment. Honeywell supplies more than 50 percent of the VCSEL chips in this market. The other big player is Agilent, but it keeps all of its VCSEL production for its own use.

Honeywell and Finisar have a relationship dating back to 1996 when Honeywell introduced the first VCSEL specifically targeted for fiber optic data communications. Finisar was one of the first customers to adopt this new laser, which soon became the standard for all LAN and SAN applications. That's because Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) deliver superior performance and reliability at a much lower cost than side-emitting Fabry-Perot lasers (see Laser Blazers).

For Honeywell, the VCSEL business had become a "non-core" operation, and is being cut so the company can focus on its main markets of automotive, aerospace, industrial, and military.

Finisar's aim is to be more vertically integrated. "This will allow us to compete more effectively against Agilent, which has a similar capability," said Finisar CFO Steve Workmanon a conference call this morning.

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