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SAES GETTERS’ METAMORPHOSIS IS BROADCASE ON LCD SCREENS
The Italian group Saes Getters is the world leader in components for traditional liquid crystal display televisions. Saes Getters – with 167.2 million Euro turnover in 2007, 99% of which generated overseas and 34.9 million consolidated net profit – is now also particularly active in the design and engineering of original solutions in the field of Oled technology. The image quality of cathode tube displays however is still the best to date.
We asked Giulio Canale, the group’s deputy CEO, if the old television really is going to be fazed out or whether there may be opportunities to keep a footing in the market sector of components for traditional televisions, specializing perhaps in a professional niche for designers with products ensuring extremely high returns.
Image quality of the cathode tube is still effectively an important point of reference. It is also true, however, that technologies continue to evolve, responding to demands in traditions and customs, and consumers’ requirements change as a result. The cathode tube market currently exists mainly in emerging countries where remarkable growth rates are not sufficient justification for investment and production in this segment. We have therefore re-invented our business focusing on the liquid crystal sector that offers excellent prospects for growth, and investing into research in the Oled field, which will develop more markedly in the near future.
According to reliable estimates, annual world demand for LCD devices (including panels for TVs, desktop monitors and laptops) should stand at between 10 and 15% within the next few years. How confident are you in this business that turnover will increase in the middle term? Does competitive pressure in terms of prices present any elements of risk, for you, in this business?
Our research confirms the segment’s prospects for growth. We have invested in the segment of LCD televisions as it is establishing itself as a market of reference: a strategic move that has allowed us to prepare a complete offer and become a global market leader.
Emerging economies, which Saes Getters has had a foothold in for some time, are those with the most interesting growth rates. As of now, which areas in the world do you think offer the greatest potential for development?
Historically, our markets of reference are Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan where our customers – producers of cold cathode fluorescent lighting for background lighting of LCD screens – are based. It is evidently possible that they will expand into other Asian countries and continents, a strategy we will support as we always have done. We will probably witness a shift in the demand for LCD televisions in emerging countries, though it will be a gradual process and will be guided by screen producers, or our customers’ customers.
What do international operators most appreciate about Saes Getters? Do your company’s economic strategies involve agreements with large foreign groups, or do you resort to local distributors guaranteeing access to the market of reference? Do you have production sites and commercial offices outside Italy?
Saes Getters has always stood out for its dedication to the research and development of products and technologies: we own a laboratory on the outskirts of Milan covering 3,300 square metres where a hundred researchers work every day. We also focus on specific skills developed over years of experience, close relationships with customers and a long-term vision: this has all helped us to gain a trusting and satisfied customer base. In addition to Italy, we have various production sites and commercial offices in the United States, Korea and China. We also have commercial offices in Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany. Our personnel are extremely skilled and qualified and we prefer not to consult distributors or third party agents.
Diversification: your recent acquisition of Electronic Devices, active in the field of solar collectors, and Advanced Materials are minor operations with the aim to diversify the origin of turnover, or do they have real strategic value in the sense of expanding and repositioning the product range?
Between 2007 and early 2008 we acquired two important companies in the United States: we purchased Spectra-Mat, the leader in vacuum components for the TLC, medical and military market, and obtained the company branch of SMC (Special Metals Corporation) active in the development and production of shape memory alloys. The two operations were part of our strategy for expansion and re-positioning, also with the aim to limit the company’s dependence on the LCD market, branching into industrial segments of exponential growth rates.