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Oak Communications Gets $23-Million Decoder Order

January 16, 1986|GREG JOHNSON | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Oak Communications, a unit of Rancho Bernardo-based Oak Industries, on Wednesday said it received a $23-million order for its Sigma cable television converter and decoder.

The order for 150,000 of the Sigma units, which could later be boosted to 200,000 units, was the "largest single order" for the cable television signal converter, according to John P. Donohue, Oak Communications president.

The Sigma units, which unscramble cable television audio and video signals, were ordered by Suburban Cable, a U.S. subsidiary of Maclean Hunter Cable TV Inc., a Canadian-based cable company. They will be installed in New Jersey homes to be served by Suburban Cable.

Last year, Maclean Hunter ordered 45,000 of the Sigma units, which were installed in New Jersey and Michigan.

"This order is significant because Maclean Hunter was one of the first cable companies (to order the units) and we're happy to say that they came back to us for the order," said R. J. Smith, vice president, sales and marketing, for Oak Communications. "They're also in negotiations with us that could double the size of the order.

"We've made the turn," Smith suggested. "We expect 1986 to be a very good year for us, from an industry standpoint. Between now and Easter will be an important time for us."

Oak Industries, the division's financially troubled parent company, has been trying to sell the cable television division, which produced a batch of faulty cable television converters that generated $300 million in losses between 1982 and 1984. The Sigma model decoder, however, is not related to that batch of ill-fated devices.

At a special meeting Feb. 20, Oak Industries shareholders will vote on Allied-Signal's proposed purchase of Oak Industries' materials group, a Hoosick Falls, N.Y.-based unit which produces laminates, "high-tech plywood" that is used by the electronics industry.

In a letter of intent signed in October, Allied-Signal said it would pay $160 million for the unit and pump another $15 million into the financially troubled Oak Industries.

Oak has said that it will use the proceeds to retire outstanding debt.

Oak Industries Chairman and Chief Executive E.L. McNeely has previously said that by selling the laminates and cable television operations, Oak will be able to concentrate on its components division.

That unit, which generates about $120 million in annual sales, is headquartered in Crystal Lake. It manufactures controls for gas and electric appliances, as well as components for several types of measuring instruments.

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