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July 11, 1991

OPTICS GROUP LEICA IN DEEP TROUBLE AS CHAIRMAN SEEKS TOTAL EQUITY CONTROL

By CBR Staff Writer

Leica Plc, the company created when Cambridge Instruments was merged into the Swiss optics group Wild Leitz AG, has reported full year pre-tax profits down 72% to UKP1.6m, compared to UKP6.0m last time. Combined turnover of the two companies stood at UKP540m at year end. The figures are compared with the last full year results of Cambridge Instruments Plc only, although this time round they include Wild Leitz’s as well – compounding how badly the company is doing. Dividends have been suspended and the company’s directors are unable to forecast when they will be resumed. Chairman Stephan Schmidheiny blamed the poor results on the world recession and the weakness of the US dollar which he said had particularly affected the group’s microscopy business. He said the directors had decided not to recommend any final dividend because of the low profits, the increased indebtedness of the company and its high gearing. Despite the disasterous results, Schmidheiny has made a bid to take total control of the company via Netherlands company Form-Feed BV. Form-Feed is proposing to increase its ownership of Leica from 87.8% to a full 100% holding. Form-Feed’s parent company is Unotec Holding AG which is soley owned by Schmidheiny – the move would therefore deliver Leica solely into the chairman’s hands. The Form-Feed proposal is to pay 70 pence in cash for every Leica Ordinary share – the terms of the deal value the whole of Leica’s issued share capital at UKP146.6m. Unotec is a Swiss company and it also has a 27.5% stake in Landis & Gyr AG, a 5.6% stake in BBC Brown Boveri AG and 6.2% of SMH – Swiss Corporation for microelectronics and watchmaking industries. Independent members of Leica’s board are proposing to shareholders that the chairman’s offer is accepted.

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