Before reporting yesterday on its acquisition of a 50 percent stake in Polycore Optical, Essilor International announced eight other new deals to acquire stakes in operations in the U.S., Brazil, South Africa, India and Asia representing a combined value of around €30 million in annual revenues.

In the sun lenses segment, Essilor has acquired a majority stake in Onbitt, a South Korean manufacturer of polarized film for ophthalmic lenses, which generates annual revenues of €5 million. Onbitt's technological expertise is expected to enhance Essilor's polarized lens line-up, a fast-growing category in which the French company is showing increasing interest. In addition to Xperio, its flagship polarized lens brand, the company recently acquired the exclusive license to manufacture and distribute the Polaroid brand, enabling it to develop a range of mid-range polarized lenses in the U.S., Europe and other markets.

In the U.S., Essilor has acquired a majority interest in two prescription lens laboratories: Prodigy Optical in Oklahoma, with annual revenues of around $3.5 million, and e.magine Optical in Minnesota, with annual revenues of around $3 million. In what is still a highly fragmented market, the company plans to continue developing local partnerships to speed up the spread of its technologies and to strengthen its local foothold.

In Brazil, Essilor is extending its geographic coverage by establishing its first series of partnerships in the state of Minais Gerais, the country's second-largest in terms of the population, where it has acquired a majority interest in PSA Nilo and Optiminas, two prescription laboratories based in Belo Horizonte with annual revenues of €6.7 million and €3.7 million, respectively. The company's network in Brazil now comprises 13 partner laboratories and a stock house, which complement its own manufacturing facilities in the country.

In Taiwan, Essilor has acquired a majority share in Shih Heng, a leading local lens distributor that has its own prescription laboratory and generates annual revenues of €6.5 million. Shih Heng is the fourth distribution network operated by Essilor in Taiwan. It will be developing the Kodak and BBGR brands in the country, enabling Essilor to strengthen its position in the mid-range segment of this market.

In India, Essilor has acquired a majority interest in Deepak Optic, a wholesaler based in Surat with annual revenues of around €1 million. Deepak Optic has been Essilor's long-term distributor in the state of Gujarat.

Finally, in South Africa, Essilor has acquired a majority stake in Spherical Optics, a prescription laboratory in Johannesburg with annual revenues of around €2 million.

In addition, Essilor has completed the previously announced acquisitions of Servi Optica in Colombia, which has annual revenues of €29 million, and Isbir in Turkey, generating annual revenues of €15 million. These two companies, which are leading ophthalmic lens distributors in their markets, have been consolidated since April 18 and May 14, respectively.