Ricoh to acquire Pentax, set sights on digital SLR market

Japan's Ricoh plans to acquire Pentax as part of a push to get into the digital single-lens reflex camera market, it said Friday.

Ricoh will buy the Pentax business from Hoya, a Japanese optical technology company that acquired the camera maker in 2008. The acquisition, agreed by the companies on Friday, is expected to take place in October this year.

The companies didn't announce a price for the deal, but the Nikkei business daily said Ricoh will pay around ¥10 billion (US$124 million) for Pentax.

Single-lens reflex cameras, which typically allow the photographer to change the lens, are becoming increasingly popular. Sales are rising and a recent report by InStat predicted revenue growth in the market between 2011 and 2012 will surpass that of fixed-lens cameras as prices fall and consumers become more discerning about image quality.

Ricoh used to make single-lens reflex cameras for the film market, but its digital camera line-up is restricted to high-end point-and-shoot models with fixed lenses. With the Pentax acquisition it plans to get back into the business, it said in a statement.

The launch of a larger consumer imaging business will also help Ricoh diversify its revenue, which today is largely reliant on its multi-function printer business for corporate customers.

Ricoh said it hopes to develop value-added businesses around the expanded digital imaging operations in areas such as the storage and refinishing of photographs.

The acquisition does not include the digital camera module, DVD pickup lens, endoscope, artificial bone, and voice synthesis businesses of Pentax. They will be retained by Hoya, the companies said.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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