Leica Camera gains strategic investor in Blackstone

ACM Projektentwicklung GmbH will remain the majority shareholder

Wednesday, 19th October 2011, London, Solms:  The Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX) and ACM Projektentwicklung GmbH today announced they have agreed a strategic partnership whereby investment funds advised by Blackstone will acquire, indirectly through a holding company, a 44% minority stake in Leica Camera AG (“Leica”), to support Leica’s international growth plans.

Headquartered in Solms, Germany, with 1,150 employees, Leica has a long tradition of manufacturing premium-segment cameras and sport optics products. Over the past sixty years, Leica has grown to become a leading German brand and is seen as the epitome of German engineering excellence and an ambassador of the “Made in Germany” quality seal.  Leica has become synonymous with the best tools of the trade, blending hand-crafted quality with a dedication to precision mechanics and producing the best optics the industry has to offer.

Building from this highly successful market position, Leica now endeavours to expand the business into new markets.  Blackstone is seen as the right partner to support Leica management to achieve these goals in light of its global footprint, in particular with significant operations in Asia, and its development capital and strategic expertise.

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Leica commented on the transaction: “With Blackstone we have gained an experienced and internationally established strategic partner, which also understands and appreciates the established brand philosophy and business model of Leica. Following the successful turnaround of the business and record sales last year, we are now focused on the continued development of the brand, its products and our growth plans into new markets such as Asia, South America and the Middle East. ACM has no plans to sell more shares in Leica Camera AG. Our long-term strategy is to accompany Leica in its continued expansion worldwide.”

Axel Herberg, Blackstone Senior Managing Director, said: “Leica is deeply rooted in Germany’s history and we would like to help grow the business in a manner that is true to this heritage, ensuring that the entrepreneurial spirit that makes Leica unique is preserved. We are very excited about supporting Leica to secure long-term commercial relationships, specifically in emerging markets, and help strengthen the company’s operational and retailing capabilities globally.”

Leica Camera AG concluded the 2010/2011 financial year with record sales of € 248.8m. The Hessen-based traditional manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products increased turnover by 57.2 % compared to the previous year (€ 158.2m). The operating result (EBIT) increased almost six fold: it rose from € 7.4m in 2009/2010 to € 41.6m. Group net income also took a positive turn: at € 36.3m it is more than eleven times the previous year’s figure (€ 3.2m). The sales increase is attributed above all to the strong demand for the two camera systems, Leica M and Leica S.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in Q4/2011.

About Leica Camera AG

Leica Camera AG is an international manufacturer of premium cameras and sport optics products. The legendary status of the Leica brand is based on a long tradition of excellence in the production of lenses. In combination with innovative technologies, Leica products continue to this day to guarantee superior image quality and visual perception. The headquarters of Leica Camera AG are located in the Hessen town of Solms, with a second production site in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal. The company is active in 54 markets internationally and operates branches in England, France, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, South Korea and the USA. New, innovative products have been the driving force of the company’s growth in recent years. Further information is available at www.leica-camera.com.

About Blackstone

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment and advisory firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, the companies we advise and the broader global economy. We do this through the commitment of our extraordinary people and flexible capital. Our alternative asset management businesses include the management of private equity funds, real estate funds, hedge fund solutions, credit-oriented funds and closed-end mutual funds. The Blackstone Group also provides various financial advisory services, including financial and strategic advisory, restructuring and reorganization advisory and fund placement services. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com.  Follow us on twitter @blackstone.


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