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Hoya sells Pentax camera business to Ricoh

Ricoh and Hoya announced today (PDF) that Ricoh is acquiring the Pentax digital camera business from Hoya in a bid to expand into the consumer digital camera market. Although Ricoh was a early player in the digial camera market and continues to make high-end compact cameras, the company hasn’t been a real player in the consumer space. By acquiring Pentax—including medium format K-mount and Q-mount DLSR as well as the Optio point-and-shoot line and security products—Ricoh hopes to get a firmer grip on the consumer market.

The companies did not reveal the purchase price, but the Nikkei Business Daily reports Ricoh is paying ¥10 billion, or about US$125 million. To handle the deal, Hoya will version spin off the Pentax business to a newly-created third company—not-so-creatively name NewCo—which will then be transferred to Ricoh once the deal concludes. Hoya has to spin out the Pentax business because it merged with Pentax in a $770 million deal back in 2008. The companies expect the deal with conclude in October.

Hoya, known for its lenses, isn’t getting out of the optics business entirely: it will still make digital camera modules, lenses for optical media systems, endoscopes, and other products (which, oddly enough, includes synthetic bones). Endoscopes and other non-consumer products will still carry the Pentax name.

Although smartphones are increasingly becoming many consumers’ go-to cameras for casual photography, there’s still a significant market for high-quality interchangeable-lens cameras amongst professional and so-called “pro-sumer” photographers. Ricoh also expects Pentax’s security imaging business to “significantly contribute” to the company’s growth.