Phase One to sell majority stake to investor in order to grow business

by Felix Esser

posted Friday, February 21, 2014 at 9:07 AM EDT

Danish medium format camera manufacturer and software developer Phase One is about to sell a majority stake to a new investor, in order to be able to continue growing its business. The investor in question is Silverfleet Capital, who shared the news on its website two days ago. According to the announcement, the transaction will provide Phase One with the funds necessary to "grow through continued innovation and new product launches, additional marketing and the potential acquisition of complementary businesses or technology."

Internally, not much will change at Phase One. CEO Henrik Håkonsson will keep his post, while Silverfleet Capital will add their own non-executive director to the company's board. The declared goal is to grow Phase One's business, and to further develop Phase One's "highly successful business" according to Silverfleet's Gareth Whiley, who is responsible for the transaction. Phase One has just recently announced a revolutionary new medium format back sporting, for the first time, a CMOS sensor instead of a CCD – the IQ250.

This isn't the first time that an investor is buying stakes in a premium camera manufacturer. In 2011, Blackstone acquired a 44% stake in Leica Camera AG, the renowned German manufacturer of rangefinder cameras, who is just now relocating its headquarters back to the town of Wetzlar, where the original Leitz company was founded and the first Leica camera invented. And the Swedish company Hasselblad, Phase One's major competitor in the world of medium format cameras, has recently seen a major investment by Ventizz.

Details of the transaction between Silverfleet and Phase One have not been disclosed, but Photo Rumors mentions that Silverfleet might buy a 60% stake in Phase One, which would make it the majority shareholder. The investor, with offices in London, Paris and Munich, has over 25 years of experience in mid-market private equity investment, and is firmly established in both the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. We just hope Phase One isn't heading in the same direction as Leica and Hasselblad have been in the past years, which is producing luxury items with a premium price tag that are mostly unaffordable for (and often undesirable to) the average consumer.

(via Photo Rumors)