Apax Nears Deal for $1.8 Billion German Eyewear Firm Rodenstock

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Apax Partners is set to acquire Rodenstock Group, becoming the German eyeglass-lens maker’s fourth private equity owner in less than 20 years.

Compass Partners reached a deal to sell the business to Apax after five years of ownership, according to a statement Wednesday, which confirmed an earlier Bloomberg News report. The transaction could value Rodenstock at about 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) including debt, people with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

That makes the Rodenstock purchase the largest acquisition in Germany so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Rodenstock is betting on a trend for costlier individualized eyewear, saying it’s the first company to measure the shape and size of each of a person’s eyes to tailor their lenses.

“Rodenstock has a strong reputation for innovation and German engineering proven over 140 years, and has created a paradigm shift in progressive lenses,” Arthur Brothag, a partner at Apax, said in the statement.

Founded in 1877, Munich-based Rodenstock employs around 4,900 people and its products are sold in more than 85 countries. The company has been a favorite among private equity firms during its recent history. Permira invested in the business in 2003 before it was later sold to Bridgepoint and then Compass.

Representatives for Apax, Rodenstock and Compass declined to comment beyond the statement. Jefferies Financial Group Inc. advised Compass on the sale.

Demand for eyewear is poised to increase in the coming years as the global population ages. The global market for spectacles is forecast to expand to $93.4 billion by 2025, up from $81.8 billion last year, according to Euromonitor International Ltd.

Other companies looking to capitalize on this growth include online eyewear retailer Mister Spex, which is preparing for an initial public offering, Bloomberg News reported in January. Meanwhile, EssilorLuxottica SA this week won European Union approval to take over eyewear retailer GrandVision NV after agreeing to sell hundreds of stores.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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