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Thursday, December 21, 2006

By October 2007: Hoya Pentax HD Corporation

Word out of Japan today is that Pentax will be purchased by Hoya in 2007. (It's being pitched as a "merger," although Hoya is called in the press release the "merging company" and Pentax the "company to be merged," which I thought was a nice way of putting it.) Although photographers probably know Hoya only from its self-branded lens filters, it's one of the largest optical glass manufacturers in the world, supplying the glass blanks that many optical companies make into lenses. It also makes glass substrates for computer hard drives and has significant business in eyeglasses, intraoculars (replacement lenses surgically implanted in the eye), and other related medical technologies. Besides cameras, Pentax has ventured into medical equipment as well, making endoscopes and bionics among other things. Hoya's assets are roughly twice those of Pentax and it has about two and a half times as many employees. Recently, its profits have been significantly more robust.

The integration will be completed by October of 2007 if all goes well. The current CEO of Pentax, Mr. Fumio Urano (right), will become Chairman of the Board, and the current President and CEO of Hoya, Mr. Hiroshi Suzuki, will be President and CEO of the new company, which will be called Hoya Pentax HD Corp. The new company will be organized around "a small headquarters with empowered business divisions."

And the upshot for us: Pentax Imaging will continue to make Pentax-branded cameras, with "...cost-competitiveness...strengthened by lowering production costs and focusing on unique, high-end products." (We especially like that last part.)

On paper this looks like a great merger, with both savings and synergies waiting to be realized. The Online Photographer congratulates Pentax and Hoya and wishes the new company strength, good fortune, and long life.



Blogger Ken Tanaka said...

I, too, wish the new amalgamation good fortune. But I cannot deny that, from a business history perspective, this is a distinct symptom of approaching demise.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Max said...

I don't know, it's a little scary, big corporations do shift its focus and sometimes branches are severed. Lets hope "focusing on unique, high-end products" proves profitable on a big scale. It doesn't seem to be the case in many other markets.

3:44 PM  
Blogger plabby said...

Hoya has no branding in consumer cameras, a hot high margin segment right now... since they already produce the glass, this is a good fit for them. Pentax is now positioned very well to lower costs and be a strong 3rd player in the DSLR race. And they get to stay Japanese without having to be merged into the Korean giant Samsung, which was their other alternative.

Faced with rising production costs, Pentax very smartly negotiated sensors from Samsung and glass from Hoya. They provide the branding between two giants in the industry who know that brands still add significant value to a DSLR.

I think Pentax will be around for a while yet, this seems like a smart move.

4:47 PM  
Blogger JohnL said...

So, from Asahi Pentax to Hoya Pentax


5:57 PM  
Blogger robert e said...

To take off from your thought, johnl, branding seems so integral to the history of consumer cameras, which often eclipsed or subsumed the identities of their corporate creators. The Leica brand became far more famous than Leitz; "downmarket" imitator International Radio Corporation abandoned its radios and its name in favor of its wildly successful Argus cameras, Seiki Kohgaku Kenkyuujo became Canon, Nikon eclipsed Mitsubishi... In the SLR era, Asahi launched Pentax, Takachiho Seisakusho took the name of its Olympus cameras, as did Chiyoko with its Minolta...

Cameras just seem to capture people's imaginations like few other products (OK, that pun was unintentional). A corporate takeover is a drastically different way to begin, but I'll be interested to see if an old story unfolds from this. Regardless, I respect both companies and wish them success.

11:36 PM  
Blogger robert e said...

[I meant to cite both plabby and johnl at the start of my comment.]

11:38 PM  
Blogger winkalman said...

Many recent Pentax lens designs were joint projects with Hoya's subsidiary Tokina. These include the DFA 50mm and 100mm macros, the DA 12-24mm zoom, the 10-17mm fisheye zoom, and the upcoming weather sealed DFA* series of lenses. As a Pentax user I'm excited by the merger. Hopefully, Hoya/Tokina can help Pentax fill out their lens lineup more quickly.

12:49 PM  
Blogger oren said...

winkalman, although they share a distributor in the US for products aimed at the consumer photography market, none of either the Tokina or the Hoya corporate literature indicates that Tokina is a subsidiary.

6:11 PM  

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