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Optics equipment maker files for $115 million IPO

ONI Systems files for an initial offering in hopes of cashing in on the greeting investors have given similar firms, such as Sycamore Networks.

Optics equipment maker ONI Systems has filed for a $115 million initial offering in hopes of cashing in on the greeting investors gave similar firms, such as Sycamore Networks.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company, formerly known as Optical Networks, makes equipment for networks that transmits information as light pulses over fiber-optic cable, a technology that is currently all the rage in the market. ONI's niche is in optical networks that run through cities and require different kinds of equipment and network design.

The company reported 1999 revenue of $3 million and a loss of $43.9 million, compared to 1998 revenue of $1.7 million and a loss of $9 million, according to reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

ONI is hoping to add itself to the growing number of Wall Street success stories for the networking industry. By tying the equipment they make to the Internet's growth, companies such as Sycamore, Juniper Networks, Redback Networks and Foundry Networks, among others, all received a warm reception from investors last year upon going public.

Also today, rival Nortel Networks announced it is suing ONI Systems for allegedly taking trade secrets and infringing on patents with its data transportation product.

Earlier this year, ONI said that it secured $75 million in additional investments and signed $50 million worth of contracts. Venture capital firms Mohr, Davidow Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers own 14-percent and 12-percent stakes in the company, respectively.

The company said in SEC filings that it hopes the offering will "enhance our ability to acquire other businesses, products or technologies and to facilitate future access to public equity markets...We may also use a portion of the net proceeds from this offering to acquire or invest in businesses, technologies or products that are complementary to our business."

No timetable was given on when the company will float shares to the public.

Sycamore Networks rose to $184.75 on its first day of trading last October from an offering price of $38 share. The stock was down $4.06, or about 2 percent, to $170 at the close of regular trading Friday.