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Copley rescues Linear Drives from receiver

01 February, 2002

Copley rescues Linear Drives from receiver

US motion controls specialist Copley Controls has bought the British linear motor manufacturer Linear Drives from the receiver. Linear Drives (LDL) was placed in receivership shortly before Christmas following a series of damaging events which culminated in its bank foreclosing, and giving the company 24 hours to repay its overdraft.

Copley has set up a new subsidiary, Copley Motion Systems, to continue manufacturing and selling LDL`s ThrustTube family of tubular linear motors. Scott Pleva, LDL`s former joint managing director, has been appointed MD of the new company with Bill Luckins staying as sales and marketing director. Both are shareholders in the new venture. Most of LDL`s 28 staff will be absorbed into the new company which will continue to operate from the same premises in Basildon.

LDL`s problems date back to the downturn in the electronics technology sector, which is a key market for linear motors. Then LDL`s North American partner, Automation Solutions International, went bankrupt, hitting the company`s North American sales. The next blow followed the 11 September attacks on the US, when LDL`s majority shareholder, a Saudi national, withdrew his support. Finally, LDL`s bank decided to limit the company`s overdraft because of the prevailing economic climate.

Linear Drives spent several months trying to find alternative sources of finance. "There were several interested parties," Pleva reports, "but due to pressure from our bankers, we were unable to close a deal in time."

Copley Controls bought LDL from the receivers in early January. Although the Linear Drives name will disappear, its brands will be kept. Copley`s existing European operation is moving to the Basildon site. Pleva says that the amalgamation will result in a wider range of products and a tighter integration between the motors and controls. He adds that the backing of a strong industrial parent company "will gives us the stability we previously lacked" and that Copley`s distribution network will boost ThrustTube sales in North America.

Pleva reports that customers from both the LDL and Copley sides of the business have "taken the news very well". THK, the Japanese bearings company with which LDL formed a partnership last year, has also reacted "positively" and may start selling Copley controllers as well as the linear motors in Japan.

Pleva says that several new linear motor products are in the pipeline and are due to be launched this summer.

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