Bridgepoint acquires Rodenstock

German manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses for spectacles Rodenstock has been acquired by European private equity firm Bridgepoint from Permira for an undisclosed sum. The transaction is subject to approval of the competition authorities.

Rodenstock, founded in 1877, is Europe’s No 3 and the global No 4 in the manufacture of optical lenses and frames. A strong B2B brand internationally but with a consumer base in Germany, it is mainly present in Europe where 80% of the company’s sales are for prescription lenses. It has production facilities for lenses at 11 locations in 10 countries with two thirds of its output in Europe, over 50% of which is in Germany. Revenues for the business in 2005 were €345m.

The company has also developed leading manufacturing technology for high performance progressive lenses. Bridgepoint estimates that the global market for corrective lenses is worth between €7.5bn and €9bn, of which 28% is in Europe.

According to Uwe Kolb, Bridgepoint partner responsible for investment activity in Germany, the Rodenstock brand is one of the company’s key assets in a market enjoying annual growth rates in excess of 4% for its core products.

Following the acquisition of Rodenstock by the Permira Funds in June 2003, the company repositioned itself with a focus on style, innovation and technology leadership. In order to achieve this, the company has since invested a total of €100m. Research and development expenditure have increased 50% since 2003. Thomas Krenz, managing partner of Permira in Frankfurt added: “To us Rodenstock is a very good example of how a private equity investor and a company with a family background can complement each other. Together with management and the employees of Rodenstock, we managed to turn the company into one of the trendsetters which represents a benchmark in the optical industry.”

Debt for the transaction was provided by Royal Bank of Scotland and Société Générale.