NIMBUS TRIMS DOWN TO BEEF UP CAPACITY

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Full-service replicator Nimbus CD International Inc. is consolidating operations in the western United States, increasing annual domestic capacity to 185 million compact discs and adding more European muscle.

``We expect that all of these initiatives will provide us with a competitive advantage to quickly benefit from the emerging markets for DVD replication,'' Lyndon J. Faulkner, president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.

A subsidiary, Nimbus Manufacturing Inc., plans to shut down a Sunnyvale, Calif., facility and add four pressing lines at each of two existing plants in Ruckersville, Va., and Provo, Utah.

Nimbus acquired the 82,000-square-foot Sunnyvale facility when it bought the assets of HLS Duplication Inc. in August 1995 for about $5.15 million.

The Sunnyvale operation employs 62. Plans for those personnel were not disclosed. Nimbus said it will relocate equipment to Provo by June 1.

The 42,000-square-foot Provo plant was established in 1994, employs 125 and will operate a total of 18 CD lines. Nimbus will lease another 50,000 square feet for warehousing and packaging and increase the head count slightly.

The 118,000-square-foot Ruckersville headquarters site went into operation in 1986, employs 300 and will have a total of 16 CD lines and four molding subsystems dedicated to new-technology digital versatile discs.

Japan-based Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd.'s plastics machinery division supplied the DVD molding subsystems in August, and Nimbus is making DVDs in limited quantities for technology tests and customers preparing to release product into the market.

Across the Atlantic, Nimbus employs 300 at a 100,000-square-foot plant in Cwmbran, Wales.

Separately, EuroNimbus SA expects to begin operations by Nov. 1 at a new CD replication plant in Luxembourg. Nimbus owns 70 percent, and publisher Saarbrucker Zeitung Verlag and Druckerei GmbH of Saarbrucken, Germany, owns 30 percent. The venture is investing $17 million in the plant and equipment.

Nimbus established an early CD manufacturing facility in 1982 and has grown through demand for audio discs that store and play back prerecorded music and, more recently, read-only-memory discs that can store and retrieve data, text, graphics, audio and video. Nimbus accesses larger CD-ROM customers through a strategic alliance with Stream International Inc. of Westwood, Mass, a majority-owned unit of R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co.

In October 1992, DLJ Merchant Banking Inc. of New York split Nimbus CD from Monmouth, Wales-based Nimbus Technology & Engineering Ltd., a maker of optical disc mastering equipment.

DLJ sold its interests in December 1994 to McCown DeLeeuw & Co. and Behrman Capital LP affiliates. In October 1995, Nimbus CD went public. Its stock trades on the Nasdaq National Market.

Nimbus CD reported a profit of $11.1 million on sales of $100.9 million for the nine months ended Dec. 31, and profit of $4.8 million on sales of $88.5 million for the comparable 1995 period.

During the recent nine-month period, Nimbus sold 119.9 million discs, up 29.8 percent from the same 1995 time frame, largely on an increase in CD-ROM volume. Average disc selling price decreased to 80 cents in the 1996 period from 88 cents in the previous year.