Asia Optical acquires 85.5% stake in Taiwan Ricoh

Dec 23, 2003 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι General Items Ι By Quincy, CENS
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Taipei, Dec. 23, 2003 (CENS)—Taiwan's Asia Optical Co. recently signed an agreement with Ricoh Co., Ltd. Of Japan to acquire a 85.5% stake in Taiwan Ricoh Co., Ltd. For NT$472 million (US$13.79 million at US$1: NT$34.1).

Asia Optical chairman Lai Yi-ren signed the stake-acquisition with Ricoh Japan for buying 16.41 million shares in Taiwan Ricoh. He said the deal would be completed by January 7, 2004. Asia Optical claimed that the stake acquisition deal would help it get access to a monthly production capacity of five million plastic lenses used in cell-phone digital cameras.

Asia Optical registered accumulated after-tax earnings of NT$1.75 billion (US$51.32 million) in the first 11 months, already achieving 113% of the company's annual profit goal. The company estimated that its annual after-tax earnings would reach about NT$2 billion (US$58.65 million), translating into earnings per share (EPS) of NT$12.8 (US$0.38). Asia Optical said that the lucrative operation results have outstripped its original annual forecast by 20%.

Asia Optical Group has been expressing strong willingness to join optoelectronic-relevant businesses in recent years. One of the company's subsidiaries in mainland China just applied to the Chinese central government for the domestic sales right of its products there.

After the acquisition, a management team consisted of mainly Asia Optical would be dispatched to handle the operation of Taiwan Ricoh, which is expected to provide the capacity of plastic lenses needed to help accomplish Asia Optical's goal to become a major supplier of cell-phone camera modules in the near future.

A senior financial officer of Asia Optical said that the flooding orders have been outstripping Asia Optical's current capacity, forcing the company to acquire Taiwan Ricoh for a rapid access to expanded capacity in Taiwan. Asia Optical is scheduled to begin big-volume delivery of cell phone camera modules in the first quarter of 2004.

Taiwan Ricoh is currently capitalized at NT$192 million (US$5.63 million). The company had revenue of NT$2.1 billion (US$61.58 million), earnings of NT$165 million (US$4.84 million), and earnings per share (EPS) of NT$8.59 (US$0.25) last year.

According to Asia Optical, Taiwan Ricoh is expected to have revenue of NT$2.5 billion (US$73.31 million) next year. In a bid to further elevate company employees' morale, Asia Optical plans to go public on the Taisadq (formerly over-the-counter) market after two years.

With the acquisition of Taiwan Ricoh, Asia Opical claimed that it could get the relevant technologies of both Ricoh Taiwan and Ricoh Japan, which are important in expanding Asia Optical's production scales of handset-use digital camera lenses and modules. In addition, Asia Opical said, Ricoh Japan would continue to release contract production orders to it in the future.
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