Denel, Zeiss in optics partnership

27 March 2007

Following 18 months of negotiations, South African state-owned defence company Denel has sold a 70% stake in its optronics business to German-based Carl Zeiss Optronics GmbH.

The new optronics business will be known as Carl Zeiss Optronics (Pty) Ltd and will compete internationally for the design, manufacturing and support of optical and opto-electronic systems, mainly in the civil security and defence fields.

Denel chief executive officer Shaun Liebenberg and Carl Zeiss Optronics GmbH CEO Armin Breining signed the partnership agreement in Pretoria earlier this month.

This is the second partnership Denel has entered into as part of its efforts to become a profitable, partially privatised company. Denel retains a 30% shareholding in Carl Zeiss Optronics.

Carl Zeiss and Denel will invest some R60-million in the new company over the next three years. According to Carl Zeiss, the funds will be used for product development, extending and modernising production lines, upgrading IT and project management systems, expanding international marketing and setting up international service centres.

Breining added that they would ensure that the new company had all the capital equipment and technologies needed for it to be truly competitive.

“The South African operation will be an integral part of Carl Zeiss Optronics, with research and development, quality manufacturing and customer support continuing at the highest levels from both Germany and South Africa,” Breining said.

Liebenberg said the new company would bring together the best contributions from each partner for the benefit of both.

“It was a tremendous step in the right direction for Denel to be associated with Carl Zeiss Optronics in this venture, which will see South Africa’s capabilities in this field slot into the global optronics business environment,” he said.

The German company is a member of the Carl Zeiss Group, regarded as a leading manufacturer of high-tech optical and opto-electronic industrial, medical and research solutions and lifestyle products. reporter and BuaNews

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