Zygo Corp., the Middlefield maker of precision optics and optical measuring equipment, said Friday it agreed to be purchased by AMETEK Inc. in a cash deal worth $364 million.
The $19.25 per share deal represents a 31 percent premium over Zygo’s Thursday close of $14.68, and a 27 percent bump from the company’s 6-month average trading price.
If the deal goes through as planned with a targeted closing in June, it would mark the end of independence for a Connecticut homegrown technology stalwart that was founded in 1970 and showed growth but was rarely a home run for investors. Zygo had $162 million in sales in 2013, with net income of $11.4 million.
The deal was valued at $280 million by the companies in a joint written statement, a reduction from the total market value due to Zygo’s $90 million in cash and lack of debt.
AMETEK, based in Berwyn., Pa., is a $3.6 billion-a-year maker of electronic instruments and electro-mechanical devices. The company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, is a component of the Standard & Poor’s 500.
The companies did not say how the acquisition would affect Zygo’s more than 600 employees, and whether Zygo CEO Gary K. Willis would remain as an employee. In recent years the company has employed nearly 300 people at its Middlefield head office and plant; an updated number was not immediately available Friday.
Willis, who was CEO in the ’90s, returned to run the company last October after the board ousted a 3-year CEO amid a sales slump — but the deal with AMETEK is hardly a desperation measure, as Zygo sales recovered nicely and its balance sheet is very strong.
It’s so strong, in fact, that at least six law firms announced Friday that they were investigating the deal on behalf of stockholders, saying Zygo’s board might have fetched more in an open auction of the company. Such moves are not uncommon when strong companies that have not seen sharp run-ups in the markets agree to sell themselves.
A rejection by shareholders would seem unlikely considering that Michael A. Kaufman, the Zygo chairman, whose fund controls 24 percent of the company, has agreed to vote his shares for the deal. Willis owned 111,646 shares, or less than 1 percent, as of the end of 2013.
The deal would allow AMETEK to expand its line of contact-based measurement devices to include Zygo’s opitical, non-contact line, the AMETEK CEO said in the written release.
Willis said AMETEK “shares our focus on delivering exceptional metrology and high end optics solutions to our global customers.”
The deal is nearly twice as large as an offer Zygo rejected in 2010, from a different Pennsylvania company, for $10 a share. Since then, Zygo has made three acquisitions. It now has operations in Tucson, Arizona; two locations in Californiia; Montreal; and overseas in Shanghai, Taiwan and Germany.
Zygo shares opened near the offer price on the Nasdaq exchange and by late afternoon were trading as high as $19.65, closing at $19.43 — higher than the offer, as some investors believed a better deal could emerge.
AMETEK shares were up 1.25 percent on a sharply down day for Wall Street.