Agilent semiconductors group becomes Avago (update)

Avago Technologies, a new company comprising the former Semiconductor Products Group of Agilent, is unveiled today.

[For press releases from Agilent and Avago, see Related Stories at right] The businesses formerly comprising Agilent's Semiconductor Products Group will be unveiled later today as what is being described as "the world's largest privately-held independent semiconductor company."

With an LED legacy dating back several decades to its time as part of Hewlett-Packard, Agilent Technologies was until quite recently the largest manufacturer of LEDs in the world.

Now its LED businesses have been sold off. Two days ago, Agilent completed the sale of its share of the Lumileds Lighting high-power LED joint venture to Philips (see Agilent completes sale of stake in Lumileds).

Agilent's non-Lumileds LED business, still a very substantial operation, was part of Agilent's Semiconductor Products Group. In August, Agilent announced the sale of this group to two private equity companies - Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) of New York City and Silver Lake Partners of Menlo Park, California - for $2.66 billion.

A new company comprising the Semiconductor Products Group is to be launched later today. At the time of writing the name of the new company has yet to be officially revealed, but a quick trawl of the KKR website shows that KKR Financial Corp invested $12.5 million in the acquisition of Avago Technologies by KKR and Silver Lake Partners, and that Avago Technologies comprises the worldwide operations of the semiconductor products group of Agilent Technologies, Inc.

"Avago" is pronounced to rhyme with "cargo".

Avago's website says that the company has 6500 employees and net revenue in FY 2005 of $1.8 billion - a good start for anyone.

A short history of LEDs at Avago

1961: Avago Technologies began as HP Associates, an affiliate of Hewlett-Packard Company, supplying specialized silicon, germanium and gallium arsenide diodes for HP test systems.

1966: Developed breakthrough GaAsP (gallium-arsenide-phosphide) light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which would prove useful in many applications, including alphanumeric displays for handheld devices and, eventually, stoplights and signage.

1968 :Introduced the first commercially available light-emitting diode (LED) dot matrix displays

1972: HP MSO develops a new five digit LED display with integral magnifying lenses for the revolutionary HP-35 handheld scientific calculator.

1992: Introduction of amber and red-orange LEDs expand the range of LED applications in cars, traffic-control signals, and moving-message panels.

1994: The introduction of the world’s brightest LED. Combining bright output, reliability and low power consumption, it replaces incandescent lamps in many new applications.

1999: HP announces strategic realignment to create an independent measurement company, spun-off as Agilent Technologies, composed of test and measurement, components, chemical analysis and medical businesses. HP continues as a separate computing and imaging company that includes all of HP’s computing, printing and imaging businesses.

1999: Agilent and Philips Lighting establish Lumileds Lighting, a manufacturer of high-power LEDs.

2005: KKR and Silver Lake Partners acquire Agilent’s Semiconductor Products Group (SPG) for $2.66 billion.

Dec. 1, 2005: Avago Technologies is established creating the world’s largest privately held independent semiconductor company.

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