Nikon to buy optical imaging player Optos for $400M in med tech expansion bid

Nikon will acquire the Optos Group for £259.3 million ($400 million) as part of its long-term plan to expand into the medical sector. Last June, the long-suffering camera giant restructured and unveiled a plan to establish itself again as a growth company--part of that is to leverage its optical technologies to expand into the medical industry.

The Tokyo-based conglomerate hopes the Optos acquisition will serve as a platform for its expansion into medical technology. It plans to expand into internal diagnostics, ophthalmology treatment and regenerative medicine such as retina regeneration. Nikon also anticipates that it can use the deal as the basis for technology partnerships. It sees Optos' ultrawidefield technologies with optical coherence tomography imaging technology as having the potential be combined with other tech to create precise, minimally invasive medical devices.

Nikon President Kazuo Ushida

"I am confident that an Optos/Nikon combination would create a world class 'retina' player and would significantly benefit our respective stakeholders. Together, we will pursue various collaboration opportunities and further expand the medical business in the future," Kazuo Ushida, President of Nikon, said in a statement.

Optos markets the Optomap technology, which is used by ophthalmologists to capture a detailed image of the retina that is used to diagnose disease. It also has next-gen ultrawidefield diagnostic products that are smaller and more portable including the Daytona and the California.

In the year ending Sept. 30, Scotland-based Optos had about $170.6 million in revenues with an operating profit of about $16.3 million. The deal values Optos at 30.5% above its prior market close on Feb. 26. An Optos shareholder Aberforth Partners, which holds about 13.1% of the company, has indicated it's in favor of the deal. The company first listed publicly in 2006.

Nikon had revenues of ¥981 billion ($9.5 billion) for the year ended March 31, with an operating income of ¥63 billion ($612 million) for that period. It is divided into the following segments: Imaging Products Business, a Precision Equipment Business, an Instruments Business and Other Businesses, including medical, encoders, ophthalmic lenses, customized products and glass businesses.

Nikon, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, has a market capitalization of ¥617 billion ($5.2 billion).

Optimistic Optos shareholders may be looking for a white knight competitor to enter the deal; they drove Optos' up above the offer price of 340 pence to 341.17 pence on the London Stock Exchange in response to the deal news.

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