Carl Zeiss Ophthalmic Lens Division and SOLA Merge

The merger between the Carl Zeiss Ophthalmic Lens Division and SOLA International Inc. is now complete. In combining and leveraging the strength of the two companies, the merger creates a new global industry leader with increased market presence and scale. Following the approval of antitrust authorities in the USA and the EU, Australia and Switzerland have now also given the green light. SOLA shareholders had already approved the merger at the end of February.

The new parent company, privately held jointly by Carl Zeiss AG and EQT III fund (“EQT”) will be headquartered in Aalen, Germany. Its name will be Carl Zeiss Vision. The new company’s workforce of 9,000 people will generate revenues of around 800 million euros per annum. This makes Carl Zeiss Vision a global leader in the eye care business. Jeremy C. Bishop will be the company’s CEO. Bishop (54) has held the position of CEO at SOLA International Inc. since April 2000. Klaus Leinmueller (47) will be the new CFO of the company. Since 2002 he held the position as Senior Vice President Corporate Finance and Controlling for the Carl Zeiss Group.

In addition the following regional General Managers have been named: Mark Ashcroft for Western Europe (UK, Ireland, France, Benelux, Spain, and Portugal as well as the Sunlens business), David Cross for Asia / Pacific, Barry Packham for the Americas, and Rudolf Spiller for Central & Eastern Europe, Denmark, Scandinavia and Italy.

The eye care businesses of Carl Zeiss and SOLA complement each other extremely well, with a strong presence in all major markets, full product and technology portfolios, and well known trade and consumer brands. The new company will offer an expanded choice in ophthalmic lens products, services and business solutions, supported by unrivalled Research & Development capabilities. Carl Zeiss Vision will be one of the world’s largest manufacturers and a supplier of semi-finished lenses and OEM products. Therefore the new company will not only be a stronger partner for the optometrists and opticians who will benefit from an expanded prescription lens laboratory network that will distribute the existing brands, but will also generate a significant part of its business through independent prescription lens laboratories that act as distributors and through customers that require semi-finished lenses and OEM products.

Jeremy C. Bishop, the new CEO, commented: “The merger between Carl Zeiss and SOLA will bring significant benefits to our customers and employees. Combining the strengths of both companies enables us to be a stronger partner to our customers in all segments of the market. We will operate with a strong regional focus so that the different needs of customers in the various parts of the world can be served. Our priority during and after the integration process is to ensure our customers continue to get the benefits of existing products and services, followed by the introduction of additional access to a more expanded portfolio. We are excited by the opportunities that merging the two businesses has created.”

Klaus Leinmueller, the new CFO, commented: ”Carl Zeiss Vision will offer optimal value for our customers and a highly profitable business for our shareholders.”

Carl Zeiss AG and EQT have agreed to pay 28 US dollars per share in cash to each shareholder of SOLA. The newly formed company is owned 50:50 by Carl Zeiss and EQT.

Under the transaction, the Carl Zeiss Group has contributed its Ophthalmic Lens business to the joint venture. Dr. Michael Kaschke, desig-nated Chairman of the Board of Carl Zeiss Vision and Member of the Carl Zeiss Executive Board, said: “Carl Zeiss Vision now has the scale it needs to actively shape the market. This investment of the Carl Zeiss Group will further strengthen our business portfolio by ensuring a sustainable, competitive position in the attractive and growing eye care segment.”

Udo Philipp, Partner at EQT Partners, one of Europe’s most renowned private equity companies, said: “EQT collaborates with companies with strong market positions, excellent management, and potential for growth. We will assist management in its efforts to improve the merged company’s competitive position and therefore also its profit and cash flow.”

Contact:
Marc Cyrus Vogel, Vice President Corporate Communications,
Carl Zeiss AG,
+49 7364 20-3242; vogel@zeiss.de

Johan Hähnel, Director Communications, EQT Partners AB,
+46 8 506 553 34, johan.hahnel@eqt.se