Optical-glass firm buys camera maker Pentax

December 22, 2006|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

TOKYO -- Hoya Corp., Japan's largest optical glass maker, agreed to buy camera maker Pentax Corp. for 90.6 billion yen ($765 million) to add endoscopes and surgical scissors.

Hoya will pay 0.158 of stock, or 709.42 yen, for each Pentax share, the companies said yesterday. The offer is 10.5 percent higher than yesterday's closing stock price.

Medical equipment sales at Pentax grew 23 percent in the year that ended March 31 as the company cut its reliance on single-lens reflex cameras because of increased digital competition from Canon Inc. and Sony Corp.

Pentax also announced yesterday a venture with Italy's Movi SpA to increase sales of endoscopes and binoculars in Europe.

"This is a positive surprise," said Hisashi Moriyama, an analyst at JPMorgan Securities Japan. "Hoya will be able to obtain in a friendly manner a major player in the increasingly exclusive and growing" SLR camera and endoscope markets.

The share swap will be conducted Oct. 1, 2007, the companies said. Hoya chief executive Hiroshi Suzuki will become CEO of the new company, Hoya Pentax HD Corp., and Pentax chief executive Fumio Urano will be chairman.

Pentax shares rose 7.5 percent to 690 yen after the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported the merger plan earlier yesterday, prompting the Tokyo Stock Exchange to halt trading in the stock. Hoya gained 0.5 percent to 4,510 yen.

"The medical business at Pentax is very attractive to us," Suzuki said at a briefing in Tokyo.

In December 2004, Pentax bought medical equipment maker Microline Inc. for $48 million and endoscope manufacturer Kay Elemetrics Corp. in March 2005 for an undisclosed amount.

Pentax posted net income of 1.09 billion yen in the first half of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, compared with a 330 million yen loss in the first six months of the previous year. Sales rose 7.7 percent to 74.7 billion yen.

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