Carl Zeiss became a limited partnership (AG) on July 1, financially separate from Schott Glas, but still owned by the Carl Zeiss Foundation. The long-awaited change of status will facilitate the German group's business abroad, making it more flexible and introducing international criteria of corporate governance, but the management has made it clear that there are no plans to sell the company or to introduce it on the stock exchange.

In the 6 months ended last March 31, the Zeiss group managed to raise its operating profit by 51 percent to €46 million and its net profit by 38 percent to €29 million, in spite of higher investments in R&D, which represented more than 9 percent of sales. Total revenues grew by 1 percent to €1,108 million. Sales of ophthalmic lenses and other eyewear products remained flat at €170 million during the period, despite a 20 percent increase in the first quarter, but a decline is not excluded for the full year due to the effect of the recent health reform.

Zeiss is reacting to the difficult market conditions in this sector by launching new innovations such as a new coating technology called LotuTec. At the last MIDO fair Zeiss launched a 1.74-index organic lens, Claret, with a 40 percent lower thickness than comparable products. New in the range is also a 1.6-index organic progressive lens with a short corridor, Claret 1.6 Gradal Brevis, specially designed for small frames.