Austria’s Kaufmann family, whose vehicle ACM owns a 55 percent stake in Leica, brought in buyout group Blackstone as a co-investor in 2011. Reuters is now reporting that Blackstone is in talks with potential buyers for its 45 percent stake.
Zeiss is one of the names mentioned as an interested party provided it could secure a majority stake. A Leica-Zeiss alliance could be interesting but Leica Chairman and ACM managing director Andreas Kaufmann told Reuters that ACM has long-term goals with Leica Camera and that his family’s definition of long-term was that of a 100-year horizon, so that deal may not happen.
Besides Zeiss, other potential buyers include other family investors, Asian optics groups and private equity funds. Last year, Chinese private equity investment firm CDH expressed interest in buying Blackstone’s stake in Leica though no deal materialized. With an estimated valuation of around 700 million euros (US $828 million), you could own a stake in Leica if you had US $373 million to spare.