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Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Optics maker agrees to buy Pentax

IN THE FRAME Hoya's acquisition comes amid tough competition in the digital imaging market with Pentax struggling against the likes of Sony and Samsung

AP , TOKYO

Japanese optics maker Hoya said yesterday it had agreed to buy camera maker Pentax in a stock swap estimated at ¥91 billion (US$771 million), giving the glass maker access to digital imaging technology.

The companies will combine operations on Oct. 1, next year, and the new company will be called Hoya Pentax HD Corp, Tokyo-based Hoya said in a release. Under the accord, each Pentax shareholder will get 0.158 Hoya shares for each share of Pentax.

Hoya president and chief executive Hiroshi Suzuki will stay on to lead the combined company.

The acquisition comes amid increasingly tough competition in the digital imaging market, with both old guard camera makers like Pentax and Nikon struggling against electronics giants like Sony and Samsung to gain the lead in digital cameras. Falling prices have undermined profit margins upping the pressure on firms to seek partners.

The move would also make Hoya and Pentax more competitive in the imaging field against rivals Olympus and Konica Minolta, which also make copiers and medical equipment. Konica Minolta was earlier forced to sell its camera unit to Sony amid spiraling development costs and has since focused on copiers.

"While the market for advanced medical products has been growing globally with further growth expected, competition has also been intensifying," Hoya said in its release. "It is critical that Hoya and Pentax leverage their respective competitive advantages and make aggressive investments through mergers and acquisitions and research and development."

The stock swap is valued at roughly ¥91 billion, based on Hoya's closing stock price of ¥4,510 yesterday on Tokyo's Stock Exchange.

Hoya's market capitalization stands at about ¥1.93 trillion, while Pentax's stands at only about ¥82 billion, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported.

But the companies have seen radically divergent fates in recent years.

While Hoya has posted three straight years of increasing net income, Pentax has seen its profits mostly flat and falling. Hoya has also seen rising sales, compared with relatively stagnant sales at Pentax.

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