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EQT eyes up Sola

Swedish private equity firm EQT and Carl Zeiss will acquire the eyeglass business of Sola International. The transaction is valued at US$1.1bn, including around US$285m in debt, and represents a premium of around 30% to Sola’s December 3 closing price.

EQT is investing from its third fund and will take a 50% stake in Sola. The deal is based on a US$28 per share cash offer for Sola’s common stock. Michael Kaschke, a member of the executive board of Carl Zeiss, described the merger as an opportunity to create a company that is represented in all of the main global markets.

The combined company will have revenues of approximately €800m and employ approximately 9,000 people. The merger enables Sola to strengthen its geographic presence in Europe and Asia Pacific and will boost uptake of the company’s manufacturing and distribution facilities.

“EQT is excited to act as a catalyst in combining these two companies,” said Udo Philipp, a partner at EQT. “Our intent will be to assist management in the company in its efforts to improve the merged company’s competitive position and thereby its profit and cash flow.”

Completion of the transaction, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Sola shareholders, US and international anti-trust approvals, completion of the financing for the merger and Carl Zeiss’ contribution of its business to the newly formed company.