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Leica sold to Sweden

The strategy of Ola Rollen, CEO of Hexagon, paid off

(Keystone)

The Swiss measuring group, Leica Geosystems, will be taken over as expected by the Swedish technology company, Hexagon.

At the close of trading on Friday, more than 70 per cent of Leica's shares had been tendered to Hexagon's public offer, the Swedish company announced.

Hexagon said the definite number would be published on Monday.

It offered shareholders SFr440 ($341) in cash plus five B shares of Hexagon, which increases the bid to SFr594 at Friday's market prices, and gives Leica a valuation of nearly SFr1.5 billion.

The takeover comes one week after rival bidder, Danaher, withdrew its offer, which amounted to SFr500 a share.

Zurich Cantonal Bank analyst Serge Rotzer told swissinfo last week that Leica shareholders were in no position to reject the Hexagon bid after Danaher pulled out.

"The price is attractive and they stand to make a good profit," said Rotzer, adding that the share price would probably fall if Hexagon also withdrew.

Strategic sense

He said the takeover made strategic sense.

"Hexagon is in the same business as Leica [measurement technology] and the two companies even share some of the same customers, so they can have good synergies.

"For example, Airbus is a customer of both. Leica does measurements for aircraft doors and Hexagon for the wings."

The Leica board of directors had initially rejected the hostile bid from Hexagon, for fear of losing independence.

They had issued a recommendation to shareholders to accept the Danaher offer since the American firm had promised to maintain the Swiss company's identity and to safeguard the interests of its customers and employees.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Hexagon launched a hostile takeover bid for Leica Geosystems in June, offering SFr440 per share.
Danaher stepped in in July with a white-knight offer of SFr500, which Leica's board recommended to shareholders.
Hexagon's subsequent due-diligence review and increased offer of SFr573 last month persuaded Leica's board to adopt a neutral stance.

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In brief

Leica Geosystems is almost 200 years old.

The company is active worldwide and has its headquarters in Heerbrugg near St Gallen.

It employs more than 2,400 people in 23 countries, with 900 in Switzerland.

Leica Geosystems recorded a net profit of SFr50.6 million on sales of SFr773 million in its last fiscal year.

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