Planar buys Clarity Visual Systems, extends reach into special displays

By Control Engineering Staff August 10, 2006

Planar Systems Inc. plans to extend its presence in the specialty display market with an agreement to acquire all outstanding capital stock of Clarity Visual Systems for $46 million in cash and Planar stock. The sale, subject to the usual regulatory and shareholder approvals, is expected to close late this year or early in 2007. The two display industry companies reportedly will combine to capitalize on the fast-growing digital signage market as well as specialty displays for a variety of applications including industrial, public information, and medical.

“Planar’s financial strength has provided the flexibility to pursue growth opportunities that integrate our flat panel display technology and go-to-market expertise with the specialized skills and product focus of a company like Clarity,” says Gerry Perkel, Planar president and CEO. “This acquisition fits very well with our new strategic direction, focusing on specialized display market segments.”

Clarity’s command and control products include premium display products targeted at a wide range of market applications, including transportation, energy, and telecommunications. The company’s patented information processing hardware and software systems are said to control the display of information from a wide variety of sources to the display system application.

iSuppli electronics research firm puts the 2005 command and control room visual systems market at more than $400 million globally and predicts it will grow more than 15% annually. The digital signage market also is said to be experiencing rapid growth due to such factors as broadband delivery of multimedia content and overall reductions in display component costs. iSuppli estimates the worldwide market for electronic signage at $1.3 billion in 2006, growing to more than $2.3 billion by 2008.

— Jeanine Katzel , senior editor, Control Engineering

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