Buyout group Blackstone (>> Blackstone Group LP) has tasked Morgan Stanley (>> Morgan Stanley) with finding a buyer for its 45 percent stake in German iconic camera maker Leica, people close to the matter said on Monday. While no auction has been officially launched, the private equity firm has started holding meetings with potential future investors such as family offices, the people added.
Blackstone and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.
Blackstone hopes to reap a valuation similar to that of luxury goods makers and sports optics peers, some of which trade at 12-14 times their expected core earnings, a premium to mass market camera makers such as Canon (>> Canon Inc) and Nikon (>> Nikon Corp), which trade at roughly half that.
Leica is expected to report earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of roughly 70 million euros (62 million pounds) this year. If valued in line with luxury groups it could fetch an enterprise value of 840-980 million euros ($1 to $1.17 billion).
(Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)