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Acquisition of a technological component in the optics sector

16/05/2011 - Press

Paris, May 13th, 2011 - Parrot, a global leader in wireless devices for mobile phones, finalized the acquisition of a 100% stake in Varioptic SA. Based in Lyon, France, Varioptic is a pioneer and the global market leader for programmable miniature optics, particularly with high performance autofocus, stabilization and zoom applications. Varioptic's major technological edge in optics will enable Parrot to add to its portfolio of digital signal processing solutions, incorporating advanced image processing technologies.

Founded in 2002 by Bruno Berge, a PhD in physics, Varioptic develops, designs and markets electrically-controlled miniature optics based on its proprietary and patented programmable liquid lens technology. With two global patents and a series of related patents, the ranges of technological solutions developed by Varioptic are aimed at a number of markets in the miniature digital camera sector (biometric and industrial micro-cameras, mobile phones, general consumer and medical cameras).

With the acquisition of this technological component, Parrot is setting out its commitment to accelerating its capacity for innovation, by developing its presence on the professional and consumer markets. The combination of Parrot's signal processing expertise and Varioptic's work on image processing research marks a further step forward with the development of the value chain, on both its existing products and new applications. Over the short term, further advances will support the solutions and products based on the Parrot AR.Drone. Subsequently, the roadmap will be extended to include automotive product ranges, as well as home products.

At the same time, Parrot will also focus on supporting the development of Varioptic's to better serve its customers. Drawing on Parrot's OEM expertise for the design, industrialization and marketing of BtoB solutions, the Group aims to support Varioptic's future growth, focusing in particular on industrial applications for its optics solutions.

A flagship for French technology, Varioptic has developed solutions based on the research work carried out since the early 1990s on electrosensitive liquid lenses in the Joseph-Fourier University's Physics Spectrometry laboratory in Grenoble, then the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon's physics laboratory, both partners of the French national center for scientific research (CNRS). Since it was founded, the company's progress has been supported in particular by FIST, OSEO Innovation and the French ministry for research, as well as leading French and international investment funds.

Varioptic employs 19 people and recorded 0.6 million euros in revenues in 2010. Varioptic's fabless business model will facilitate its integration within Parrot. The technical and operational synergies resulting from the business combination between the two companies are expected to enable Varioptic's operations to break even in 2013.

This acquisition is financed with 0.6 million euros in cash, Varioptic has 2.6 million euros in net financial debt. In addition, there is a potential earn-out of up to 3 million euros linked to Varioptic's revenues for FY 2014. At the same time, Parrot is subscribing to a 4 million euro capital increase benefiting Varioptic. In 2011, the operation will have little impact on the Group's earnings given the fair value of the assets. For reference, Parrot’s revenues came to 241.7 million euros in 2010, with an operating margin of 13.1%. At March 31st, 2011, Parrot had 96.4 million euros in cash or cash equivalents (net of debt).

Further information on Varioptic: