Northwest NEWS

August 3, 1998


ATL acquired; Kao closing affects over 300 jobs

   by Andrew Walgamott
   Staff reporter

   BOTHELL--A Bothell ultrasound designer and manufacturer will be acquired by a giant Dutch company, while a Microsoft packager will leave town later this year, a move that will affect hundreds of jobs.
   On Wednesday, ATL Ultrasound, Inc. agreed to a merger with Royal Philips Electronics NV in a deal estimated to be worth $800 million. Philips will acquire all outstanding Advanced Technology Laboratories (ATL) stocks at $50.50 a share.
   ATL will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Philips' medical wing, Philips Medical Systems.
   Ultrasound, a non-invasive technology that uses high-frequency soundwaves to image the body's organs, soft tissue and blood flow in real time, is one of the fastest growing sectors of the medical imaging business today. It was the only part of the diagnostic imaging trade in which Philips did not play a key role, according to spokesmen for both companies.
   ATL, one of Bothell's top employers, has 2,600 staff and had annual revenues of $430 million in 1997. Philips, which makes everything from color TVs to light bulbs to recorded music, has 264,700 employees worldwide and sales of $39 billion US in 1997.
   "With essentially no overlap in our products and technologies, we believe this combination is the perfect match for both companies," said Dennis Fill, ATL chairman and CEO in a prepared statement. He said the merger was good for ATL's long-term prospects and said company headquarters would remain in Bothell.
   Ultrasound is a $2.5 billion a year industry worldwide.
   At a company meeting two weeks ago, Kao Infosystems Inc., officials announced that they would be closing their doors by the end of December, a decision which will put 330 full time employees and all part timers out of work.
   According to John Depuy, executive vice president of the Bothell packager/manufacturer, the move represents a shift in corporate focus to consumer products.
   Kao Corp., based in Tokyo, is sometimes referred to as the Proctor and Gamble of Japan, making toothpaste, laundry soap, shampoo and detergents, Depuy said. While it was reported that Kao, pronounced like 'cow,' packaged all Microsoft software for North American sale, Depuy said the company also does work for Intel and others. They employ between zero and 200 part time workers, he said.
   Company officials are now "aggressively" looking for work for their employees, which include engineers, buyers, planners, distributors and management, and will offer them resume and interview training.
   Noting the hot job market, Depuy said, "For a generally negative thing, it couldn't have happened at a better time."
   Depuy encouraged firms who may be interested in Kao workers to call Human Resources Director Kevin Corrigan at (425) 402-9100.
   Kao acquired a 252,200 square-foot building in Canyon Park in 1996 from Microsoft for their operation. The pair had a three-year agreement to package and ship the software giant's products.
   Reportedly, the building, the largest for sale on the Eastside, has an asking price of $19.7 million.