After a capital increase that saw the entry of two new shareholders, Luneau Technology of France has a acquired Briot International and other parts of Buchmann Optical Holding, notably Weco and Rodenstock Instruments, forming a new powerhouse in the area of instruments for opticians with annual estimated sales of close to €100 million, placing it in the same league as Nidek or Essilor International. Financial terms of the deal were not released.
The concentration process at Luneau started in 2003 with its merger with Visionix, and the process may not be over yet. Officials of Luneau would not comment on speculation that it may also be a candidate for acquiring some or all of Indo's equipment business, following its insolvency (see previous article). As reported extensively at the time, Indo had agreed in mid-2008 on the principle of an alliance with Buchmann, but nothing came out of it in the end because the financial crisis led both partners to record major sales declines and for other reasons.
One of the reasons was probably the fact that some of Indo's and Buchmann's product lines overlapped to some extent. There is hardly any cannibalization in the case of Luneau and Buchmann, as the former concentrates on sophisticated optometric equipment, whereas the latter has a leading position in lens edgers and similar equipment. Only a marginal overlap exists between the Rodenstock product line and Visionix' new advanced refraction equipment, which is based on digital wavefront technology.
The company that is coming out of the merger is going to be run by Marc Abitbol, the scientist who founded Visionix in 1993 with the support of an Israeli incubator program. He and other managers of Luneau will continue to control the company, but two large French institutional shareholders, Avenir Entreprise and Caisse des Depots et Consignations, have bought shares in the company, boosting its equity. They join another major institutional investor, BNP Paribas, which owned a significant share before.
Jacky Buchmann, the Belgian entrepreneur who took over Briot, Weco and Rodenstock Instruments several years ago, will be going into semi-retirement at the age of 78, with his Belgian-based holding company taking care only of distribution of the whole group's products in Belgium and some South American markets. Other than this, no changes in distribution are contemplated for the moment, but the group should be in a position to offer more complete solutions to the key accounts.