Blackstone snaps up stake in Germany's Leica Camera

FRANKFURT Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:17am EDT

FRANKFURT Oct 19 (Reuters) - Private equity company Blackstone has bought a 44 percent stake in Germany's Leica Camera , to help the company, maker of the world's first compact camera, to expand abroad.

"After the successful turnaround and record sales last year, we are concentrating on further developing the brand and its products as well as on entering new markets in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East," Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said in a statement on Wednesday.

No financial details of the deal were disclosed.

Leica, which launched its first 35 mm camera in 1925, posted sales of 248.8 million euros ($340 million) in its financial year through the end of March, up 57.2 percent from the previous year. It had a net profit of 36.3 million euros and paid its first dividend since 1997.

Leica, based in Solms, ran into financial trouble in 2005 but managed a turnaround after raising capital and replacing its chief executive.

Its main shareholder, Austrian investor family Kaufmann's holding company ACM Projektentwicklung GmbH, is keeping a majority stake in Leica and has no plans to sell more shares, Leica said.

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