Wellington scientific instrument maker Magritek is merging with a German scanning company, a deal initiated by its illustrious founder, the late Sir Paul Callaghan.
The company said the deal gave it access to hi-tech manufacturing equipment in Europe, providing some relief from the strong kiwi dollar.
Magritek has made magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment in Kelburn for seven years. The equipment is used by scientists in petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Germany-based ACT GmbH makes scanning equipment in the same field.
The merger, in which no cash is changing hands, is between two companies which have worked together since Magritek was first created as a spin-off from Victoria and Massey universities.
ACT will trade under the Magritek name and the brand will remain 60 per cent New Zealand-owned, with the universities retaining shares.
Magritek chief executive Dr Andrew Coy said the merger fulfilled a plan Sir Paul, the 2011 New Zealander of the Year, had set in motion last year before his death in March.
“It was something Paul and [ACT’s] Bernard Bluemich had been talking about for a while so in a way, this has been very important to us, as it was something Paul had been working hard to achieve,” Coy said.
He would not reveal the company’s revenue, but said exports were growing at a rate of 50 to 60 per cent a year.
“There is some benefit that comes in terms of hedging because we will now be incurring some expenses in euros . . . Effectively it is going to increase the amount of intellectual property in our products, give us access to the German manufacturing resource capability and access to supply companies with the latest machining equipment. The goal is to build a global company.”
Magritek will keep existing manufacturing and staff in Wellington but can use the high precision manufacturing equipment in Germany, which is not available in New Zealand.
Magritek’s magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear magnetic resonance machinery (NRM) consoles are portable, at a size that can sit on scientists’ desks.
They are used for molecular analysis and testing how porous rocks are. Magritek is in the process of developing new instruments, including an Ultracompact Benchtop NRM Spectrometer.
“Traditional spectrometers are very large and have to be put in a special room to be operated by somebody with a PhD and also require expensive liquid cryogen gases cooled to very low temperatures which rely on superconducting magnets,” Coy said.
“But our system uses permanent magnets which are switched on all the time and can sit on a bench right next to where someone is working, enabling them to analyse chemicals and materials they are working with.”
Magritek’s customers have traditionally been in America and Europe.
Originally published in the Dominion Post