Fife-based Optos acquired in £259m deal with Nikon

A DEAL to acquire retinal imaging specialist Optos for £259 million has been described as “positive news for Scotland” by the Fife firm’s chief executive.

Nikon advertising campaign featuring Kate Moss. Picture: PA

Yesterday’s surprise news of the cash-only takeover by Japanese optical giant Nikon sparked a spike in the Optos share price. The 340p-a-share deal represents a 30.5 per cent premium to Thursday’s closing price, just a day before the offer emerged. They were trading up 31 per cent at 341.5p by the close of play last night.

The move will see Nikon, which is best known from a consumer perspective for its digital cameras, enter the medical imaging sector and build a business around the Optos acquisition.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The group stressed that it had no “current” plans for headcount reductions at the Scots firm, which employs almost half of its near-400 staff at its Dunfermline headquarters.

Roy Davis, who joined the firm as its chief executive six years ago, said it was “tremendous” that a company of Nikon’s stature was buying the business.

“This deal is a very positive validation of our technology and all of the hard work that our staff have put in over the years,” he told The Scotsman.

“This business is complementary to what they [Nikon] do. They intend to build their medical business around us and are committed to invest money in that. From our perspective as a business I think this is all good news.”

Davis holds around 75,000 shares in the company and has long-term options on about one million shares. About 50 per cent of the staff hold share options.

Optos was founded in 1992 by Douglas Anderson after his then five-year-old son went blind in one eye when a retinal detachment was detected too late.

These days, the firm designs and sells eye-testing machines worldwide that can detect high blood pressure and some types of cancers. Much of its revenue stream is derived form North America, and the company reports in US dollars.

For the year to the end of September, Optos generated revenues of just over $170m (£110m) and an operating profit before exceptional items of $16.3m.

Julie Simmonds, an analyst at brokerage Canaccord Genuity, said: “Optos shares have performed strongly since last year following the success of the next generation product Daytona, and the offer is a fair premium to the current share price on this basis. We recommend investors accept the offer.”

Shares in Optos have performed strongly after hitting a low of just over 30p in 2009. At the time of its results last May they were changing hands at about 150p.

Founded almost 100 years ago, Nikon generated sales of about $9.5 billion in the year to 31 March 2014.

Commenting on the proposed deal, which will now be put before Optos shareholders, Nikon president Kazuo Ushida said: “I am pleased to announce this strategically important transaction for Optos and Nikon. I am confident that an Optos/Nikon combination would create a world class ‘retina’ player and would significantly benefit our respective stakeholders.

“Together, we will pursue various collaboration opportunities and further expand the medical business in the future.”

Peter Fellner, chairman of Optos, added: “Under the leadership of Roy Davis and the management team, Optos has successfully established itself as a global leader in retinal imaging supported by the introduction of innovative new products such as the Daytona.”