Battin Replaced by Sehnert as Head of Wavetek

Times Staff Writer

Wavetek, which earlier this month adopted a "poison pill" package to ward off a possible takeover, on Friday said it had replaced president John W. Battin with C. Fredrick Sehnert, a Wavetek board member for six years.

Wavetek officials on Monday declined to comment on the reasons for Battin's departure, but the company did say Friday that it expected to report a net loss for the second quarter ended July 2.

Sehnert previously served as president and chief executive of San Diego-based Software Products International, a closely held company whose largest shareholder and chairman is John Thornton, a Wavetek board director and major stockholder. Until his resignation last month, Thornton was Wavetek chairman.

SPI on Monday named John Bowne to succeed Sehnert as president.

Sehnert and Thornton also sit on the board of Mitek Systems of San Diego, a company controlled by Thornton.

Ill-Fated Acquisition

Previously, Sehnert was chairman of Kratos Inc., an instrument manufacturer based in La Jolla that in 1982 borrowed $75 million to make an ill-fated acquisition of Keuffel & Esser, a New Jersey company that was twice Kratos' size.

Kratos eventually had to liquidate its profitable divisions in order to reduce that heavy debt. Sehnert resigned as Kratos chairman in 1984.

Battin, who joined the company in 1985 from Motorola, helped direct what several observers described as a successful turnaround at San Diego-based Wavetek. Earlier, the company nearly foundered after a series of unsuccessful acquisitions and a downturn in the instruments market.

During the past three years, Wavetek restructured its holdings by selling three unprofitable divisions and acquiring some new businesses.

Wavetek reported a $984,000 profit for the second quarter ended April 1, up 34% from $733,000 the previous second quarter. The company generated a $3.9-million profit on sales of $76.8 million for the fiscal year ended Oct. 3, 1987.

Settled Lawsuits

Wavetek also reported that it had reached agreements to settle a pair of class-action lawsuits linked to the company's public stock offering in 1983. A company spokesman declined to say if cash payments involved in those settlements contributed to the second-quarter loss.

Although Thornton and his wife, Sally, jointly retain about 8% of Wavetek's stock, Thornton previously said that he had reduced his involvement in Wavetek.

In an interview Monday, Thornton said Battin's resignation was in no way connected to terms of the class-action settlements.

In June, Thornton was replaced as Wavetek chairman by David B. Pivan, who previously served as chairman of Lynnwood, Wash.-based Intermec.

Wavetek adopted the poison pill after Shufro, Rose & Ehrman, a New York-based investment firm, indicated that it would sell its 20% interest in Wavetek. A poison pill is a strategic move by a company to make its stock less attractive to an unsolicited buyer.

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