Cree Bolsters Power & RF Business with APEI Acquisition

LED and semiconductor technologies company Cree has acquired Arkansas Power Electronics International, or APEI, a maker of electronics components used in power, telecommunications, and renewable energy applications, the company announced today.

Cree (NASDAQ: CREE) disclosed no financial terms for the acquisition of privately held APEI. Durham, NC-based Cree said that APEI will continue to operate from Fayetteville, AR, and will now be known as Cree Fayetteville. Going forward, the unit will be part of Cree’s Power & Radio Frequency (RF) business, the business segment that makes components used in equipment for the power and telecom industries. Cree currently divides its operations into three business segments. In addition to the Power & RF business, Cree operates an LED Products unit, and a Lighting Products unit.

The APEI acquisition comes nearly two months after Cree announced plans to spin off its Power & RF business as a separate company supported by an initial public stock offering. Cree has not yet disclosed any additional details on those plans. But the APEI deal signifies Cree’s desire to expand the Power & RF unit, which is the smallest of Cree’s three business segments measured by revenue. Power & RF accounted for just $107 million of the company’s $1.6 billion total revenue in fiscal 2014.

Cree and APEI are familiar with each other, having worked together previously on multiple government contracts. As an example, Cree noted the companies collaborated on the development of a battery charger for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Cree characterized APEI as complementary to its business, strengthening its capabilities in silicon carbide (SiC) power electronics. The company said that APEI also brings additional intellectual property and expertise.

“Extending our research and development capabilities with APEI, a leader in wide bandgap power R&D, will help us accelerate delivery of a full spectrum of SiC power modules to meet customer requirements for performance and cost,” Frank Plastina, Cree’s executive vice president, Power & RF, said in a statement.

Frank Vinluan is editor of Xconomy Raleigh-Durham, based in Research Triangle Park. You can reach him at fvinluan [at] xconomy.com Follow @frankvinluan

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