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Planar Buys Runco In $36.7M Deal

5/23/2007 04:22:00 PM Eastern

Beaverton, Ore. — Commercial and high-end home theater display manufacturer Planar Systems Wednesday acquired elite home theater display manufacturer Runco International for $36.7 million in cash, Scott Hix, Planar home theater display group VP, said.

Runco, a privately held company, has been positioned as the market share leader in the ultra-high end home theater display business, and has expanded its distribution in recent years through the acquisition and development of the Vidikron brand.

Under the new structure, Hix will continue as Planar Home Theater Business Unit general manager and VP, responsible for all three brands.

Bob Hana, formerly Runco International president, is now Runco world wide sales and marketing VP. Greg Caves becomes Runco world wide sales director and Jim McGall becomes Vidikron world wide sales director.

“Sam Runco and his wife Lori will remain attached to our hip as they always have been as consultants for the business in multiple fashions, from brand to channel management, media relations and technology,” Hix told TWICE.

All three lines will use a similar philosophy and channel focus, with little distribution overlap, Hix said.

“We have been able to identify over 7,000 installers and dealers in the North American market. We believe we can continue building the Planar brand in positioning next to the Runco and Vidikron lines as well without creating cannibalization or conflict,” Hix said.

Hix said he sees the new Planar as “a house of brands.” The Planar brand may have some marketing synergies with Runco and Vidikron that have yet to be determined.

“But what I can say is that in no way will the Planar brand be used to diminish Runco’s,” Hix said.

Runco will be the premium brand in the arrangement as it continues to deliver display solutions priced from $3,000 to $250,000. Vidikron will continue to be used as a secondary premium brand to reach a broader class of custom installers and A/V specialty dealers.

Similarly, Planar will be used to reach another level of dealers, with little crossover between the three, Hix said.

Planar has a range of technologies in its commercial display and signage businesses that Runco may leverage to expand its lines, said Hix.

“Our No. 1 objective is to accelerate our clearly articulated strategy to become a major player in the specialty display markets, one of which is the high-end home, and we embarked on the organic development of that strategy nine months ago,” said Hix. “We felt that by acquiring Runco we could accelerate that strategy that we had planned to spend three years developing and collapse it into this one-year period.”

“Runco is a relatively small company from a manufacturing perspective,” Hix said. “We are a $220 million company with worldwide factories and logistics. Sam saw an opportunity to leverage that operational strength in supply chain management to actually improve Runco.”

In a statement, Runco CEO and founder Sam Runco said, “Our loyal customers and custom dealers will see enhanced Runco and Vidikron offerings thanks to the tremendous benefits of Planar's global resources. Planar brings substantial capabilities in specialty display technology beyond the home theater market and well-developed global operations and supply chain management. Most importantly, Planar has a company philosophy akin to what Runco has always stood for – excellence in technology, outstanding quality and service and dedicated focus to its custom channel partners. I believe this combination can not only continue the approach to the market that has made Runco a leader, but it will also create even better products and support to enable our channel partners expanded success in the market.”