With shares fetching some of their best prices in months, several members of the Laukien family with large stakes in Bruker Corp. again want to cash out and maybe raise a few bucks for the company in the bargain.
The Billerica manufacturer of medical imaging equipment and chemical detection devices this week announced plans to sell up to 70 million shares of stock, half of which are being offered by the company and the other half by family members with deep ties to the company. With Bruker stock currently trading near $8 a share — or more than double its price late last year — the proposed stock sale could generate up to $280 million in fresh cash for company coffers.
It also has the potential to create an equally hefty payday for Dirk Laukien, an executive vice president at the company and the younger half-brother of Bruker CEO Frank Laukien, as well as Dirk Laukien’s mother, Isolde Laukien-Kleiner, and another of his siblings, Marc Laukien.
Overall, Laukien family members now own roughly 69 percent of Bruker stock, although that total would dip below 40 percent if all shares offered by the three family members are purchased by outsiders.
U.S. companies, led by financial institutions, have increasingly jumped on the secondary bandwagon, raising nearly $49 billion during May alone, according data compiled by Thomson Reuters. The surge reflects the recent rebound in stock prices and investors’ rising confidence in global economic prospects, although some analysts also believe the dilutive effect of millions upon million of new shares reaching the market may limit further gains for prices in coming months.
In a June 15 shelf registration filing, Bruker officials did not indicate specific plans for any of the money they hope to raise, saying only that it’s intended for general corporate purposes such as capital expenses and debt repayment, or to finance possible acquisitions.
A shelf registration, meanwhile, does not commit the company to offering a specific amount of stock or setting a definite price or timetable for a sale, instead only making a number of shares available to sell in the future by placing them on a “shelf” for a potential offering.
Dirk and Marc Laukien, their mother and various other family members have been steadily reducing their individual stakes in Bruker in recent years. The family sold a combined 22.4 million shares through a pair of secondary offerings in early 2007 and in 2004 and have also used private stock sales and a 2006 merger with Bruker Optics to cash out sizable portions of their holdings.
Frank Laukien, however, has not participated in the secondary offerings and instead has spent just under $6 million to buy up nearly 1.5 million shares since Bruker stock bottomed out at $3.37 a share on Nov. 20, 2008. He also is helping promote the company and the stock through a new round of investor road shows, including a conference in New York this afternoon hosted by Goldman Sachs.