Oxford Instruments said today it is acquiring Asylum Research from its management. The up-to-$80 million deal adds Asylum’s scanning probe/atomic force microscopy with Oxford Instruments’ high-tech tools and systems focused on research and industrial applications.

Oxford Instruments agreed to pay Asylum Research $32 million upfront, plus up to $48 million tied to undisclosed performance milestones. The deal is set to be completed by the end of this month.

In a statement, Oxford Instruments said the deal was in line with its “14 Cubed” initiative to achieve both a 14% average compound annual growth rate in revenues and a 14% return on sales by the year ending March 2014, since the deal would contribute to the planned acquisition element of the revenue growth objective.

In the company’s Reports and Financial Statement 2011, however, CEO Jonathan Flint said the 14% compound growth rate that Oxford Instruments envisioned under 14 Cubed “is planned to be achieved more through organic growth than by acquisition.”

Oxford acknowledged today that Asylum was expected to deliver less than the 14% targeted margin over the next two financial years, but added that the 14 Cubed margin target remained unchanged, and that the deal would strengthen the company’s competitive position.

“The acquisition of Asylum Research significantly increases our footprint in the nanotechnology space and complements our strong position in electron microscopes with a presence in another fundamental nanotechnology measurement technique,” Flint said today in Oxford’s statement on the Asylum acquisition. “The acquisition also gives us access to the rapidly growing bio-nano market as it allows customers to perform analysis of organic samples in their natural liquid environments, something which cannot readily be done using electron microscopes.”

Founded in 1999, employee-owned Asylum is headquartered in Santa Barbara, CA, and has subsidiaries in the U.K., Germany, and Taiwan. During 2011, Asylum Research generated $1.1 million in earnings before interest and taxation on revenue of $19.6 million during 2011.

Asylum said in its own statement that it would remain in Santa Barbara and keep its current management, led by co-founders Dick Clark, the company’s CFO; Roger Proksch, president; and Jason Cleveland, CEO.

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