AWR acquires RF simulator company APLAC
Privately held RF design-tool vendor Applied Wave Research (AWR) announced this week that it has added an RF simulator and 18 new employees to its lineup by acquiring RF simulator vendor APLAC of Espoo, Finland.
In the acquisition, AWR picks up the APLAC simulator, which was originally developed and is still in use at mobile-phone maker Nokia.
The two companies agreed on the cash- and option-based acquisition in principle in February of this year, according to James Spoto, AWR's president and CEO. The companies delayed an official announcement of the acquisition until they had successfully integrated the APLAC simulator into AWR's IC and PCB RF design and layout environment, he added.
Mutual customers drove the acquisition, Spoto said. "We have a large and growing installed base in Europe," he said. "And we've always been impressed with APLAC and its expertise in simulation and modeling. As AWR has grown, the number of people who understand RF and understand software development is quite limited. Now we are able to put together a large R&D organization of people with a proven track record."
Several European foundries are using the APLAC simulator as a signoff simulator, Spoto said. "Having an approved signoff simulator gives us a big advantage in the RF IC market," he said. "APLAC has 180 customers, and the vast majority of them are not AWR customers, so we believe the combined forces can bring a lot more to our respective customers."
Olli Pekonen, APLAC's managing director and CEO, said that APLAC's technology, while very advanced, has been a bit hard for the average RF engineer to use. "In the acquisition, we are bringing the APLAC technology to more designers and have made it easier to use," Pekonen said.
The acquisition comes on the heels of AWR competitor Agilent EEsof's July acquisition of Eagleware-Elanix. The RF space hadn't seen much merger and acquisition activity prior to these actions. In fact, consolidation in RF EDA tools is long overdue, Spoto said. "The market is not a huge market, and you have a lot of players chasing the same customer base," Spoto said. "Industries tend to do well when there are two or three main players, and this space has been too fragmented, which makes it tough for customers because they don't know who the winners are going to be. It is clear now that AWR and Agilent are two of the main players."
With the acquisition, AWR now has more than 80 employees. The acquisition, which has already closed, included both cash and stock options. The companies, both privately held, declined to state the value of the acquisition. APLAC's 18 employees will work for AWR out of APLAC's offices in Espoo.