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-ACM, which currently holds a 97.6% stake in Leica, and BCP Lisa Germany, which is indirectly controlled by Blackstone funds, have notified Leica of the signing of an agreement concerning the acquisition.
-The transaction is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter.
-The move makes Blackstone a strategic partner in supporting Leica's international expansion plans.
FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) -- Private equity firm Blackstone Group LP BX said Wednesday it has bought a 43.9% minority stake in the German camera maker Leica Camera AG LCA1.FF from majority shareholder ACM Projektentwicklung GmbH.
Axel Herberg, Blackstone's senior managing director, said in a telephone conference that the financial investor "would like to help grow the business ... specifically in emerging markets."
Based on Leica's share price Tuesday, and including a usual premium for such transactions, Blackstone paid slightly more than EUR130 million, said a person close to the matter.
Herberg declined to comment on the price but added the acquisition was purely equity financed, adding the deal size was at the lower end of Blackstone's range.
Large private equity firms in general intend to taking over 100% of a company, using debt to leverage their returns. Asked whether this deal marks a change in Blackstone's strategy, Herberg said, he'd like to do more transactions like this one if there were enough targets. He declined to comment, however, whether Blackstone is looking at similar transactions at the moment.
Austrian investor Andreas Kaufmann, whose investment vehicle ACM remains the main shareholder, added he will retain the majority stake in Leica and has no plans to sell more shares.
Hesse-based Leica, which launched its first camera in 1925, posted revenue of EUR248.8 million ($340 million) for its fiscal year ending March 30, up more than 57% from the previous fiscal.
"We want to double our sales to EUR500 million by 2016/17," Chief Executive Alfred Schopf said in the same telephone conference.
Net profit for the company increased almost six fold to EUR36.3 million, which enabled it to pay out its first dividend since 1997.
In 2005, Leica escaped insolvency by raising capital and replacing its chief executive. It now employs 1,150 staff.