Planar CEO’s Memo To Staff: Business As Usual

August 14, 2015 by Dave Haynes


Planar’s CEO is telling staff and customers that it is business as usual for the Portland, OR company in the wake of the announced acquisition by Chinese LED display manufacturer Leyard.

Of course, executives tend to say that in the wake of M&A events, and often that isn’t the case.

But Planar’s executive team took a number of nice steps that I’m sure made people a little less jumpy about having new masters. It circulated a memo and FAQ to staff spelling out some key things, notably, the state of everyone’s jobs.

Do I still have a job?

Yes. This acquisition is not about industry consolidation and layoffs. It is about innovating and growing our joint businesses. The skills and knowledge of Planar employees globally are critical to our success and are a primary reason for this acquisition. Leyard is relying on your deep experience in display technology and serving our customers. You are vital in developing our joint future and we are counting on your engagement and support to make that happen.

Will my job change?

There are no expected changes to jobs or roles as a result of this announcement and our day-to-day activities are the same as they have been. When the transaction is complete, Leyard has communicated a desire to keep Planar’s reporting structures and managers the same as they are now. Gerry Perkel’s role as CEO of Planar will continue after the transaction closes and he will continue to report to the Planar Board of Directors. The only change is that the board members will be new, and instead of many shareholders there will be one—Leyard.

Here’s the memo (filed with the SEC) …

Memo to Planar Employees from the Office of the CEO

Today is a monumental day in the history of Planar. As you may have seen, our Board of Directors has approved a definitive merger agreement with Leyard Optoelectronic Co. Ltd, a global leader in fine pitch LED video wall technology headquartered in Beijing, China, whereby a U.S. affiliate of Leyard will acquire all of the common stock of Planar. Leyard has agreed to pay a premium over our current trading price in recognition of the value that we have created in our brand, product portfolio, and organizational capabilities. Planar employees should be proud of the company and all that we have achieved, and all the opportunity that is in front of us.

This kind of transaction requires antitrust clearance, approval of the Planar shareholders, and satisfaction of other specified closing conditions, so we are not one company yet—we will continue to function as two separate companies until the transaction is completed. Between now and the close of the transaction, Planar remains an independent company from Leyard. We are competitors in the marketplace and must operate as such until the transaction is completed.

As a result of these processes and approvals, I may not have as many answers as you have questions. We have prepared a “Frequently Asked Questions” document that may help outline specifics of what we can expect in the coming months and into the future. If you have questions about how this announcement affects you as an employee, please don’t hesitate to reach out your manager, Human Resources, or to me. We want to answer your questions. We will be listening for common themes and preparing future employee communications to answer as many questions as we can.

I have asked the CEO and Chairman of Leyard, Victor Li to comment on the announcement and he was eager to discuss it. “Leyard was attracted to Planar’s strong sales channel, brand presence, product innovation and organizational capabilities, and we felt it a perfect complement to what we have built over the past 20 years. This combination will accelerate Planar’s strategies to grow digital signage product sales and our vision to provide leading video wall solutions on a global scale. Serving customers with innovation, quality, and passion has been and will continue to be our focus.”

He continued, “Leyard’s market leading position in fine pitch LED video wall technology and Planar’s award-winning LCD products and history in video wall, make the us both stronger. The joint selling and marketing capabilities will bring our product portfolio to more customers in growing markets globally. Planar’s exceptional strengths in the market will help us achieve more than we could on our own. We highly respect the leadership and employees of Planar and look forward to expanding the business together.”

I am excited about the opportunity this combination can bring to our customers, our people and our company. With the combined forces of our companies, I would expect an even more robust product portfolio, across technologies, with continued innovation in every function that our customers will value. I see tremendous potential for exciting innovative products once this transaction is completed.

In the meantime, it is critical that we continue on with business as usual. We are two companies and we need to continue to operate with that in mind. We have customers that deserve our best and we will continue to deliver solutions, launch products, win new business, compete aggressively, develop new offerings, and execute every day. You still have an important job to do. Your manager and supervisors remain the same. Just like before the announcement, the executive team of Planar is leading the business and is empowered to make the decisions that the business requires.

We are sending communications to our valued partners, customers, and suppliers to inform them and assure them of our commitment to our mutual success. If you get questions from outside parties, please refer them to your manager or executive team member, so that we might respond appropriately. Any questions from the media or about the terms of the deal or the processes underway with our shareholders should be directed to Ryan Gray, as has been our long-standing practice for any investor inquiries.

As I said, it is a proud day for Planar employees. Since the early days in display technology, now over 30 years ago, we have earned the respect of the market with innovation and exceptional customer service. We intend to continue to earn our great reputation, as a bigger, better, and bolder company in the future. Thank you for all you do to make Planar successful!

Gerry Perkel

President and CEO

There’s also a good piece in the Portland Business Journal about the deal …

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