Almost Half of Leica Is for Sale, and Zeiss May Be the Buyer

Almost Half of Leica Is for Sale, and Zeiss May Be the Buyer

A 45 percent chunk of Leica is up for sale, and Zeiss may be in line to buy it.

The report originated with Reuters, who notes that Blackstone, an investment group with a 45 percent stake in the well-known camera company, is currently looking to sell its share of Leica, with Zeiss being a prime candidate and the other 55 percent remaining with the Kaufmann family. The process has not yet entered a bidding phase, though the report notes that both Zeiss and possibly Huawei have shown interest. Nonetheless, the source in the Reuters report noted that Zeiss' interest is contingent upon obtaining a majority share in the company. However, the Kaufmann family has indicated an active interest in the future of the company, which may hamper such a deal.

While nothing is set in stone and it's not clear if the issue of majority stake can be worked out, such a purchase could represent could represent a huge paradigm shift in the industry and could present some interesting new horizons if Zeiss brings their knowledge to the table with Leica's products. At this time, Leica Camera is valued at approximated $830 million, with a 45 percent share of that being about $375 million.

[via DPReview]

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11 Comments

I'm not sure how I feel about Huawei owning a majority stake, but Zeiss actually makes sense. Considering that its only a 45% stake though, and the remaining 55% is owned by a single entity it would mean having no real say over any decisions (as I understand it). I can't imagine this would make sense as an investment, but then again I don't really know what I'm talking about.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Why not? Because they are Chinese? Would it make more sense to you if if Apple was interested in buying Zeiss?

Good for the Chinese for acquiring technology and and making it even better.

Nothing to do with where they are from, just that they are in a very different place when it comes to their design and target demographic.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Many companies are looking to expand into markets that are semi-related. Phones and cameras are getting closer each year so I can see the interest.

Also, having the Leica name can help market other products. Imagine their phones have Leica lens and the famous red logo to go with it?

Makes sense

Dallas Dahms's picture

Isn't Zeiss owned by somebody else?

Manfred Mueller's picture

Zeiss is owned by the Carl Zeiss Foundation, which owns both Carl Zeiss AG (the lens maker) and Schott AG (the glass maker).

All in German, but... http://carl-zeiss-stiftung.de/2-0-Ueber-uns.html

Dallas Dahms's picture

Thanks. I thought they had been bought out by some Eastern company. I might be thinking of the Cosina purchase of Voigtlander though.

Anonymous's picture

Zeiss apparently wants control or nothing which makes sense. Absent synergies or access to capital, the hedge fund interest sold does little for leica. Zeiss lens tech might help Leica, maybe..but not clear what Leica does for Zeiss except use their capital. But then the playing field is shrinking and consolidation might mean survival. For both.

Kaufmann saved the company when he took over. I remember when he sold to Blackstone to take a profit after he had turned everything around. Also, it took somebody like him with the guts to invest in systems like the S2. He's a real visionary and it would be great if he stays on.

Anonymous's picture

Notwithstanding the latest product is pretty cool kit, leica seems to have lost its way. The boutiques that neither trade used nor carry film and seem less about photography and more about some exclusive club membership...my grandfathers both used leica..111f and M3. Then it's was about what was technically the best and less about the owner making a statement as the best..zeiss is towards the old school..maybe the Chinese angle works best to the future of the name, but like Alpa, Contax, Rollei..maybe its time has come..my sample of one: starting back by sending the M3 out for CLA, getting some film..frankly have zero interest in current offerings..but I don't know the inner workings of their business in terms of capital and time to bring out new products, health of the balance sheet..
There may be an age demographic at play..the age of many hobbiests..those making scale models, fooling with model trains etc..is getting on and old guard not being backfilled..old Leica still has a novelty appeal to youth, but may not be as ready to equate price and quality as their parents and grandparents..
Hoping for the best..