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Credence Acquires Rival for $4.7M

Credence Systems Thursday said it has acquired all of the assets of German-owned SZ Testsysteme AG and SZ Testsysteme GmbH from the Klaus Christian Penner family for about $4.7 million.

Founded in 1978, SZ Testsysteme makes and distributes automatic test equipment (ATE) for semi-conductors for the entertainment, automobile, telecommunications and multi-media industries. The equipment is assembled from standard hardware and customized software. The company has subsidiaries worldwide.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Credence now owns SZ Testsysteme's ATE portfolio. The Credence-SZ business will operate as a division of Credence and will continue to develop, manufacture and support the test systems from a facility located in Amerang, Germany. Credence said it would also integrate all sales, service and applications support into its worldwide distribution network to make a smooth transition for SZ customers.

Traditionally, Credence's products test digital, mixed-signal, analog, nonvolatile memory, and radio-frequency wireless integrated circuits used in PCs, phones, cameras, televisions, and other products.

Credence execs say they'll use SZ's portfolio to improve the growing number of microprocessors being installed in automobiles. A process also known as telematics .

"Historically our strength and expertise have been in the mixed-signal test market, whereas SZ's focus has been primarily in the automotive test sector - a sector we believe will demonstrate strong, steady growth over the next five years," said Credence Systems chairman and CEO Dr. Graham J. Siddall. "This acquisition will complement our current mixed-signal and wireless solutions portfolio as well as create a new division focused primarily on the more resilient and emergent automotive test market."

The gamble could pay off in short order. The automotive semiconductor market generated revenues totaling over $13 billion in 2002, with total market revenues forecasted to reach $21 billion by 2006, according to Gartner Dataquest. With complex features being added to automobiles, it is expected that advanced electronic control units (ECU) processors will drive demand for advanced ATE. Not to mention that automakers have a bit more money to spend than consumer product manufacturers.