Nikon enters medical sector with offer for acquisition of Optos plc – “The retina company”

Nikon diversifies from digital cameras to medical imaging

Retinal imaging market estimated to grow to US$ 530 million in 2019

Currently 70% of Nikon’s business are digital camera, a rapidly shrinking market due to the popularity of smartphone cameras.

Inspired by SONY‘s investment in medical imaging company Olympus, Nikon diversifies from digital cameras into medical imaging, acquiring the Scottish retinal imaging company Optos plc – “The retina company”.

Nikon is reported to have approached Optos plc in December 2014, but seems to have been rejected.

On February 27, 2015, NIKON Corporation and Optos plc jointly announced the agreement for a recommended cash offer my by NIKON for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Optos. Details can be found on NIKON’s official website for the Optos offer, where NIKON essentially offers a total of UKL 250.48 million (US$ 387 million) for all shares of Optos.

Optos plc – The retina company

Optos plc was founded by Douglas Anderson in 1992 after his son became blind on one eye, because his retina detachment was diagnosed too late.

Optos plc had IPO on the London Stock Exchange in February 2006. Market capitalization on February 27, 2015 was UKL 250.48 million (US$ 387 million), jumping from approx. UKL 191 million (US$ 295 million) on February 26, 2015.

Optos has a market share of about 30% of the global market for retinal imaging. The global market size of devices for retinal imaging is growing and estimated to become US$ 530 million in 2019.

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NTT Communications reportedly in talks to acquire German data center operator e-shelter facility services GmbH


NTT Communications to continue global expansion

e-shelter offers about 90,000 square meters of data center space in 9 locations

NTT Communications is reported by Nikkei to be in negotiations to acquire Frankfurt based e-shelter facility services GmbH for approximately YEN 100 billion (US$ 840 million).

NTT Communications acquisition is driven by the need to grow outside of Japan, and by the need to offer global services.

e-shelter facility services GmbH

e-shelter facility services GmbH was founded in 2000, and offers 90,000 square meters of data center space in 9 locations across Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

e-shelter data centers

NTT Communications

NTT Communications was created with the privatization of NTT, which is formerly was Japan’s domestic monopoly telecommunications operator (KDD was had the monopoly for overseas telecommunications from Japan).

NTT Communications started globalization with the acquisition of US internet access, hosting and service provider VERIO for a approximately US$ 5.5 billion, announced on May 8, 2000.

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Hitachi agrees with Finmeccanica S.p.A. to acquire rail business of AnsaldoBreda S.p.A. and 40% of rail signaling company Ansaldo STS S.p.A.


AnsaldoBreda rail business to help Hitachi to compete globally with Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom

Finmeccanica accelerates restructuring, reduces debt and focuses on aerospace, defense and security

Hitachi Ltd (株式会社 日立製作所) and Finmeccanica S.p.A. announced on February 24, 2015, that their Boards of Directors have agreed for Hitachi to:

  • acquire the rail business of AnsaldoBreda S.p.A. (with some exceptions) for € 36 million (US$ 41 million), and
  • to acquire Finmeccanica’s 40% holding in the rail signaling and rail systems company Ansaldo STS S.p.A. for € 773 million (approx. US$ 880 million)

Hitachi is expected to be required to launch a tender offer for all remaining shares of Ansaldo STS S.p.A. and if successful, will acquire all of Ansaldo STS S.p.A..

Estimating the overall acquisition size:

Hitachi and Hitachi Rail

Hitachi is generally considered as one of Japan’s most important and most representative companies. Hitachi was founded in 1910 bei Namihei Odaira, and produced Japan’s first electrical motors. (For a detailed analysis of Hitachi and Japan’s electronics industry, read our report “Japan electronics industries: mono zukuri“.

Hitachi’s “Smart Transformation”

While Hitachi grew into a conglomerate with a large number of different business areas, during the 15 years 1997-2012, Hitachi grew with an annual compound growth rate of only 0.48%, and during the period 1997-2012 suffered average annual net losses of YEN 45 billion (US$ 0.45 billion) per year. This difficult business situation is characteristic of Japan’s electronics industry overall, as discussed in our report “Japan electronics industries: mono zukuri“. One reason for this difficult situation is the so-called “Galapagos Effect“.

Indeed, Hitachi’s “Chief Transformation Officer” (CTrO) explained recently, that it is only in 2011/2012 that Hitachi started to benchmark important business performance data (eg. operating margin, R&D expenditure, administrative expenses, cost of sales etc) internationally. Until 2011/2012 Hitachi had only compared performance data with other Japanese companies such as Toshiba.

In April 2010, Hiroaki Nakanishi was appointed President of Hitachi, and he started the “Hitachi Smart Transformation Project” with the aim to rebuild a strong Hitachi into a truly global company. (You can find an overview of Hitachi’s Smart Transformation Project in our report: “Japan electronics industries: mono zukuri“).

Hitachi has great strengths in rail engineering, and the acquisitions of AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS are an implementation of Hitachi’s Smart Transformation Project.

Other recent acquisitions and investments by Hitachi in the railway engineering field include:

AnsaldoBreda S.p.A.

AnsaldoBreda S.p.A. was formed in 2001 by the merger of the companies Ansaldo Trasporti and Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie, and employs about 2400 employees.

Gio. Ansaldo & C. was founded in 1853 in Genoa to manufacture steam engines, steam locomotives, rail rolling stock.

Ing. Ernesto Breda and C. was founded in 1886, and became Societa Italiana Ernesto Breda (SIEB) in 1899.

AnsaldoBreda in cooperation with Bombardier produces the Italian high-speed train Frecciarossa, and other trains for many mainly European and US rail operators. Recently there have been a number of delivery problems, e.g. the IC4 for Denmark, and the Dutch/Belgian high speed train Fyra, a project which was abandoned on 31 May 2013 after its operating license was suspended by the authorities.

AnsaldoBreda businesses:

  • High speed trains
  • Trams
  • Driverless metro (e.g. in Taipei, Copenhagen, Salonicci, Riyadh, Milano, Honolulu, Brescia)
  • Metro (e.g. Circumvesuviana, Madrid, Fortaleza, Meneghino, Los Angeles, Miami Dade Country, Milano)
  • Commuter trains
  • Locomotives
  • Services

Ansaldo STS S.p.A.

Ansaldo STS S.p.A. is a manufacturer of rail signaling and transportation systems, and was founded in 2006 by the merger of a number of railway engineering companies, including:

  • US Union Switch & Signal (US&S), founded by George Westinghouse in 1881 in Pittsburgh, USA.
  • Compagnie des Signaux pour Chemins de fer (CSE), founded by Fernand Cumont in 1902, which built the first lines of the Paris Metro. Later renamed Company and Business Electrical Signals (CSEE)

40% of Ansaldo STS S.p.A.‘s shares are owned by Finmeccanica S.p.A. and Finmeccanica has now agreed to sell these 40% of shares to Hitachi. The remaining 60% are traded on the Borsa Italiana, and it is reported that Hitachi will be required to launch an offer to purchase all remaining 60% of shares following the acquisition of 40% from Finmeccanica.

Finmeccanica S.p.A.

Finmeccanica S.p.A. is an Italian industrial group, founded in 1948. As of 23 December 2014, 32.45% of Finmeccanica shares are owned by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance.

With the sale of the railway businesses, Finmeccanica will focus on aerospace, defense and security core business.

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Sosei Group acquires Cambridge/UK based Heptares Therapeutics Ltd for up to US$ 400 million

Sosei Group acquires candidate drugs to compensate for expected loss of patent protection for the Seebri inhaler in 2026

Heptares Therapeutics Ltd emerged from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Cambridge

Sosei Group Corporation (そーせいグループ株式会社) is a Japanese pharmaceutical group which mainly in-licenses pharmaceutica in Europe and North America, then brings these pharmaceutica to Proof-of-Principle stage in Japan, and consecutively out-licenses these pharmaceutica for further development and marketing.

In 2026, Sosei is expected to lose patent protection for its Seebri inhaler, and to compensate for this expected loss in revenues, Sosei acquired the Cambridge (UK) based Heptares Therapeutics Ltd for up to US$ 400 million (US$ 180 million in cash plus up to US$ 220 million in incentives if certain milestones are reached).

Heptares Therapeutics Ltd

Heptares Therapeutics Ltd creates novel pharmaceutica targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) using its StaR drug design technology.

Heptares Therapeutics Ltd started based on the research by Richard Henderson and Christopher Tate a the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Cambridge (UK).

Heptares Therapeutics Ltd previously was funded by a consortium including MVM International Life Science Capital Management, Clarus Lifescience II LP, Novartis Bioventures Ltd., Takeda Ventures Inc. and the Stanley Family Foundation.

Sosei Group Corporation (そーせいグループ株式会社)

Sosei Group Corporation (そーせいグループ株式会社) was founded on June 22, 1990 with the main purpose to in-license pharmaceutica in the European and North American markets, to develop these pharmaceutica to the point of Proof-of-Principle (POP) in Phase 2a, and then to out-license these pharmaca for further development and marketing in Japan.

Sosei Group Corporation (そーせいグループ株式会社) is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Mothers Section (TSE 4565).

Sosei Group companies and subsidiaries

  • Holding Company: Sosei Group Corporation (そーせいグループ株式会社) (Tokyo and London, UK)
    • Sosei Co. Ltd.(株式会社そーせい) (Tokyo): pharmaceutical development and sales, business development in Japan
    • Sosei R&D Ltd. (London, UK): licensing and business development outside Japan
    • Activus Pharma Co., Ltd.(株式会社アクティバスファーマ) (Chiba, Japan): pharmaceutical development based on nano technology (APNT = Activus Pure Nano-particle Technology)
    • Jitsubo Co., Ltd. (JITSUBO株式会社)(Tokyo): development of peptide drugs, licensing of peptide API manufacturing technology, research related to discovery of peptide drug candidates. Acquired on December 11, 2014. Jitsubo KK was established in April 2005 by Professor Kazuhiro Chiba of the United Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. Sosei Group acquired 68.7% of voting rights for YEN 421 million (US$ 3.5 million)
    • Sosei CVC Ltd. (そーせいCVC株式会社 / そーせいコーポレートベンチャーキャピタル株式会社) (Tokyo): managing Sosei RMF1 (Regenerative Medicine Fund)

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Rakuten Your online video service

Rakuten’s first entry into Spain’s markets

On June 13, 2012, Rakuten acquired Spanish online streaming video-on-demand (VOD) provider – slogan: Your online video service was founded 2009 in Barcelona by current CEO Jacinto Roca. is funded by Bonsai Capital, Axon Capital, and Marc Ingla, former Vice-President of the football club “Futbol Club Barcelona”. offers on-demand internet rental streaming video / media based on content distribution agreements with major Hollywood studies, local studies, and partnership agreements with TV and other device manufacturers. Download or storage is currently not supported.

  • “rental” is typically for unlimited viewing within a 48 hours rental period
  • “buying” typically allows unlimited viewing for a period of 3 years or longer
  • “Season Pass” available for some TV series about “We offer the latest Hollywood blockbusters, the most popular TV series, and the best films from independent filmmakers. All this, easily accessible from your computer, Smart TV, tablet, phone and gaming console.” (from the website)


  • Spain: 600,000
  • Andorra:
  • United Kingdom: 400,000 (December 2014), started in July 2013 at an introductory price of UKL 2.99/month (to be raised to UKL 5.99)
  • France: (start on September 15, 2014 with a soft-launch for 10,000 users). Rakuten is planning to leverage PriceMinister’s 20 million members
  • Total: 1.85 million (December 2014) is reported to enter Italy, Germany and 12 more markets in the near future.


  • Android
  • Chromecast
  • iPad
  • PC (with Adobe Flash Player (version 10 or higher) installed)
  • Mac (with Adobe Flash Player (version 10 or higher) installed)
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • SmartTV (eg. Samsung, LG, Panasonic etc)
  • Xbox360, XboxONE
  • EETV set top box

Platform usage (December 2014):

  • TV: 40%
  • Smartphones and tablets: 28%
  • PC/Mac web browser: 21%
  • Game consoles: 11%
  • Total: 100%

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Canon offers SEK 23.6 Billion for CCTV leader Axis AB

Canon aims for leadership in the US$ 15 billion global video surveillance market

Canon offers 50% premium on Axis Aktiebolag share price of Monday Feb 9, 2015

Canon is one of Japan’s most successful electronics groups, with imaging as one of Canon‘s core business areas.

On February 10, 2015, Canon launched a public offer with a total value of about SEK 23.6 billion (US$ 2.8 billion) to acquire all outstanding shares of the Swedish surveillance video company Axis Aktiebolag. The public offer will start on March 3, 2015, and is expected to end on April 1, 2015.

Canon aims for leadership in the global video surveillance market

With this acquisition (if successful), Canon is aiming to become a global leader in the video surveillance market, which is estimated to be about US$ 15 billion globally.

Axis Aktiebolag

Axis is traded on the Nasdaq Stockholm (Large Cap) stock exchange. The trading symbol is AXIS, and the ISIN Code is SE0000672354.

Axis to remain independent entity with current management

Under the applicable Takeover Rules, Axis Board of Directors needs to express an opinion on the impact of the potential takeover on employment, on Canon’s strategic plans, and the impact of these strategic plans on employment and the communities in which Axis does business.

Axis Board of Directors declared Canon’s intention to keep Axis AB as an independent entity under the current management, and continuing the current company culture, and to retain the Axis brand name.

Axis Board of Directors’ statement of February 10, 2015 can be found here on the Axis website.

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