Spacelabs Medical, an Issaquah maker of patient-monitoring systems, has had three owners in as many years. Now its newest parent plans to...

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Spacelabs Medical, an Issaquah maker of patient-monitoring systems, has had three owners in as many years. Now its newest parent plans to take Spacelabs public on a secondary London stock exchange where only 20 U.S. companies are traded.


OSI Systems, a Los Angeles security and optoelectronics company, said this week that Spacelabs, which it acquired last year, has been combined with its other medical businesses to form Spacelabs Healthcare.


The company plans to sell about one-third of Spacelabs Healthcare on the Alternative Investments Market (A.I.M.), a 10-year-old exchange owned and operated by the London Stock Exchange, said Deepak Chopra, OSI chairman and CEO.


The combined company’s headquarters will remain in Issaquah, where Spacelabs employs about 450 people in manufacturing, research and development and support, said Dave Tilley, president and chief operating officer.


The company has 400 more workers in North America and Europe. Global employment in the combined company will be about 1,050, Tilley said.


The medical businesses combined as Spacelabs generated operating income of $8.4 million on $195.7 million in revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30.


Chopra expects Spacelabs Healthcare to be valued at roughly $200 million if the stock offering takes place, as expected, sometime in the fourth quarter.


The capital generated by the offering will help expand the health-care business organically and through more acquisitions, he said.


“We are now maybe sacrificing the possibility to grow the health-care business because we are investing in the security business,” Chopra said in an interview yesterday. OSI, which itself is publicly traded on Nasdaq, will retain a two-thirds stake in Spacelabs.


Spacelabs Healthcare includes OSI’s other health-care subsidiaries: Dolphin Medical and Osteometer MediTech, both of California, and Blease Medical in the United Kingdom.


OSI’s move to take its health-care businesses public on the A.I.M. rather than on the Nasdaq perplexed some observers at first.


Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst with Morgan Keegan, said that in 11 years of covering publicly traded companies, this is the first time he’s encountered a U.S. company going public on the A.I.M.


Of the 3,011 companies traded on the A.I.M., only 20 are American, according to its Web site.


Enova Systems, a Torrance, Calif., company that makes fuel cell and hybrid systems primarily for large trucks and buses, listed its shares in late July. Larry Lombard, Enova’s CFO, said going public on A.I.M. rather than the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange is “a little simpler and more cost-effective for smaller companies.”


Chopra said investment bankers have told company management that Spacelabs Healthcare isn’t yet big enough to get attention on the Nasdaq, though a dual listing is a future goal.


He also said management hopes the listing will generate more coverage from health-care analysts.


“A.I.M. has become a very dynamic marketplace in the last 18 months,” he said. “It’s the big fish, small pond phenomenon.”


London-based Collins Stewart is the investment bank handling the offering. Under Securities and Exchange Commission rules, U.S. residents can’t buy the shares for one year after the IPO.


Spacelabs got its start in 1958 providing medical monitoring for astronauts. It was the first to bring intensive-care monitoring systems to market.


The company moved to the Puget Sound region from California in the mid-1990s, and traded on Nasdaq. In July 2002, it was purchased by Instrumentarium, a global competitor headquartered in Finland, and delisted from the Nasdaq, said Tilley, who has been COO since mid-2002.


Shortly thereafter, Instrumentarium was purchased by GE. But regulators said the company would have to spin off Spacelabs for the merger to go forward. The company was part of GE on paper but did not take orders or share information with its giant parent for the better part of a year.


OSI paid about $57 million in cash for the company in March 2004.


Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or bromano@seattletimes.com