BASF Buys Swiss Photalignment Specialist Rolic
To further brighten its prospects as a supplier of the electronics industry, BASF has acquired privately owned photoalignment specialist Rolic, headquartered at Allschwil, Switzerland. The transaction, for which financial details have not been disclosed, includes Rolic affiliates in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and Shanghai, China. Regulatory approvals are not required, BASF said. The deal reportedly includes a number of patents as well as knowhow.
With worldwide operations and a workforce of 110 people, Rolic has sales in the double-digit million Swiss franc range and is said to be profitable. Its portfolio includes ready-to-use formulations and functional film products for the display and security industry in addition to barrier materials and films.
In products for end consumers, the Allschwil firm’s technology, known as Light Controlled Molecular Orientation, is said to offer optimum image quality with high contrast and brilliance as well as very low energy consumption. It boosts the performance of the liquid crystals by adding contrast. Products made with the process are already in commercial use.
Rolic was founded in 1994 as a spinoff of the Swiss chemical-pharmaceuticals company Roche – the name Rolic stands for Roche Liquid Crystals. The liquid crystals part of the business was later sold to German chemicals and pharmaceuticals producer Merck, which is now regarded as the leading player in this part of the display chemicals market.
Following the acquisition by BASF, the Swiss company’s CEO, Norbert Münzel, told the Zurich newspaper Neue Züricher Zeitung (NZZ) he sees potential for business in in particular in Japan, South Korea and China, where BASF has production facilities and can offer technical support, including customer service. Münzel told NZZ also that he expects BASF to expand the business.
Markus Kramer, president of the German group’s Dispersions & Pigments division, called the acquisition “a further step that reflects BASF’s strategic and long-term commitment to grow in the electronics industry,” Lothar Laupichler, senior vice president of the group’s global electronic materials business, added that the combination of Rolic’s strong technology know-how and customer relationships with BASF’s market reach will create new opportunities for co-developing next generation LCD and OLED displays with higher resolution, more brightness and deeper contrast.