Private equity company Blackstone has bought a 44% stake in Germany's Leica Camera in a bid to help the company expand abroad.

Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said in a statement, "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."

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. Leica posted sales of €248.8m (c. £218m) in its financial year to the end of March, marking a 57.2% increase from the previous year. It also produced a net profit of €36.3m (c. £32m), paying its first dividend since 1997.

History

Leica is one of the most prestigious photography brands in the world with a rich manufacturing history, having launched its first 35mm camera in 1925 and now boasting a line-up which includes the world's smallest full-frame interchangeable lens camera, the £5,000 Leica M9.

Based in Solms in Germany, the company faced financial difficulty in 2005, but managed a turnaround after raising capital and replacing its chief executive.

The main shareholder in Leica, Austrian investor family Kaufmann's holding company ACM Projectentwicklung GmbH keeps a majority stake in the company, and has no plans to sell further shares, according to Leica.

Via Reuters