Long-Time Lehigh Valley Manufacturer Positioned for Growth After Acquisition
By Colin McEvoy on April 13, 2018
A long-time Lehigh Valley maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment has positioned itself for further growth in the region thanks to a recently-completed acquisition by a Chinese microelectronics manufacturer.
Akrion Systems LLC, a manufacturer that has been located Upper Macungie Township for more than 20 years, has been acquired by the Beijing-based NAURA Microelectronics Equipment Co., resulting in the wholly-owned subsidiary NAURA Akrion Inc.
The move, announced in January, will let NAURA Akrion tap into China’s significant market growth in the area of capital equipment for the semiconductor market, and result in regional growth for the company, which already employs nearly 100 people in the Lehigh Valley.
“Enhanced by the strong strategic and financial support of our new investors, the company’s future is brighter than ever,” said Michael Ioannou, CEO of NAURA Akrion. “We are excited to continue building and growing NAURA Akrion into a global leader in wet-processing systems as part of NAURA.”
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has been engaged in ongoing communications with NAURA Akrion during and after the acquisition, making site visits and providing assistance through the organization’s Business Outreach Program (BOP).
The BOP made itself available for assistance during the nearly year-long acquisition process, which required approval by both Chinese regulators and the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Additionally, LVEDC held discussions about how to raise the company’s profile and attract the right people for new positions, and has held talks about connecting NAURA Akrion with the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley for on-the-job training funds and other assistance.
“Naura’s recent acquisition of Akrion is a wonderful example of foreign direct investment into the region and into the successful company Michael has helped to build,” said Melody Bradford, LVEDC Director of Business Outreach. “We are working closely with Naura Akrion to offer the core of services through the Business Outreach Program. Our team at LVEDC, and the Business Outreach Program partners are dedicated to helping Naura Akrion, and companies like them, to succeed and stay in the Lehigh Valley.”
Ioannou said NAURA Akrion is extremely grateful for the partnership with LVEDC and BOP.
“The business outreach team was quick to engage with us early on in the CFIUS approval process by offering their support and help as needed,” he said. “Post-closing of the transaction, they engaged with us once again to assist with the recruiting of technical, and other resources.”
Naura Akrion has already recruited nine new employees since the acquisition, mostly in technical jobs, and are in the process of recruiting 10 more. Ioannou said the labor market in the Lehigh Valley is strong, both for technical and operations positions.
“There are a lot of benefits to being in the Lehigh Valley,” he said. “The cost of living is the right amount to stay competitive, and we have access to different areas in the supply chain, which is also good. Many of their suppliers in fabrication are local companies.”
NAURA Akrion is a leading supplier of advanced surface preparation systems and processes used in the manufacture of solar, semiconductor, and related devices.
Seventy percent of the growth of the capital equipment for semiconductor market will take place in China, Ioannou said, so the acquisition by NAURA will allow the company to participate in the market effectively and ensure the longevity of the company.
The acquisition is a good match for Naura as well, Ioannou said, because it has the equipment ready to enter the market and are prepared to invest in developments for future requirements in the market.
The Chinese company was drawn to the Lehigh Valley in part due to its central location and access to markets on the East Coast, Ioannou said. Located one hour north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes west of New York City, the Lehigh Valley provides quick access to 40 percent of American consumers within a day’s drive.
“I think we have a good match between us and the new owners on a number of fronts,” Ioannou said. “It was a good synergy.”
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