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Rodenstock sale going ahead with Apax acquisition

Funds advised by global private equity advisory firm Apax are set to acquire ophthalmic lens manufacturer Rodenstock Group in a deal reported to be worth AU$2.3 billion.

The London-based buyer – known as Apax Funds which invests in companies across four global sectors including healthcare – has reached an agreement with Rodenstock’s shareholder Compass Partners, which acquired a majority stake in the company in 2016 before taking full control in 2018.

Also, Abu Dhabi strategic investment fund Mubadala Investment Company announced it too will invest in Rodenstock, alongside Apax Funds as a minority investor.

Founded in 1877, Rodenstock has been a global leader in prescription lenses for more than 140 years. The group is headquartered in Munich, Germany, and employs around 4,900 people worldwide, represented by sales subsidiaries and distribution partners in more than 85 countries, including Australia.

Tim McCann.

Reuters reported that financial details were not disclosed in the agreement, but a person familiar with the matter told the international news agency that the deal values Rodenstock at about €1.5 billion (AU$2.3 b), including debt.

Apax Funds will support the Rodenstock management team’s goal of accelerating growth through innovation, commercial execution and digitisation, while continuing to deliver high level service to clients and partners.

In an email this week, Rodenstock Australia general manager Mr Tim McCann moved to assure customers that nothing would change for them under the new ownership.

“We remain fully committed to your interests and will continue to develop our business jointly with you,” he said.

“This new partnership will reinforce Rodenstock’s position as a strong, independent company. We look forward to investing into the future growth of the company in years to come. Apax fully trusts us and will work closely with the current management team.”

The Apax healthcare team are said to have a good understanding of medical technology through prior investments, including companies such as Candela, a non-surgical aesthetic device company, and Acelity, a global leader in wound-care products.

Anders Hedegaard.

“We are excited to partner with the Apax Funds, who have a proven culture of investing for growth, and who will be able to support Rodenstock’s continued quest to develop and produce the highest quality lenses for our customers,” Mr Anders Hedegaard, CEO of Rodenstock, said.

“During 2020 we saw tremendous growth driven by our B.I.G. Vision technology, which helped us emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger than most of our competitors. Our innovative technology enhances the value proposition that can be delivered by our opticians, who in turn are delivering optimal vision to consumers. With the support of Apax we are looking to expand our presence even further by offering our customers more excellent and innovative products.”

Mr Steven Dyson, partner at Apax and co-head of healthcare, added: “Rodenstock fits perfectly with the Apax Funds’ healthcare strategy of investing in innovative companies with a differentiated customer proposition and the potential to achieve stand-out growth. Under Anders’ management, Rodenstock’s strategic refocus has already translated into strong performance in 2019 and 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, creating a robust foundation for future success.”

The transaction is subject to applicable regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the middle of 2021. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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