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10-13-2020, 09:16 AM - 4 Likes   #1
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What became of Asahi Optical Company?

As we know, the Asahi Optical Company was founded in 1919 and became famous in the fifties for the Pentax 35mm SLR. Over the years Pentax went from a model to a brand in its own right. Some time after the millennium Hoya bought out Pentax, but we don't talk about that.

My question is, where did AOCO go and where is it now? The windows on my '07 Lexus are branded Asahi and I have always wondered about that. Some internet sleuthing has brought up more questions than answers.

There is Asahi Spectra:

QuoteQuote:
Asahi has developed photonics tools for over 50 years, and now provides state-of-the-art optical filters and instruments to overseas customers.
We are passionate about contributing to the development of optical industries and progress of sciences with our cutting-edge technology.
Optical Filters and Instruments | Asahi Spectra USA Inc.
Then there is Asahi Lite Optical:

QuoteQuote:
Since its establishment in 1980 Asahi Lite Optical in Sabae, Japan has been producing and selling ultra high refractive index organic lenses.
Asahi Lite Optical (Europe) GmbH | Asahi-Lite
Confused yet? There is also Asahi Optics Limited:

QuoteQuote:
Asahi Optics Limited has been specializing in LED optics since 2010, and providing an integrated one stop service including optical design, tooling design, tooling making, precision injection and sales. We are listed as national high-tech enterprise and cooperate with CREE, CITIZEN, OSRAM, LUMILEDS, NICHIA Etc. in the area of optical engineering and technology development. Products are being used in a wide range of areas, Indoor Lighting ( MR16,PAR light,stage light,etc.), Outdoor lighting(street light, high bay light,wall wash light,bill board light, flash light,etc.) as well as the other field special optics such as military industry, aviation industry.
LED optics
Finally, there is Asahi Group Holdings but they have a different kind of product:

ASAHI GROUP HOLDINGS

At this stage I gave up. I am now confused, a little depressed and in need of one the above beverages. Will the real Asahi Optical Company (or the rightful heirs thereof) please step forward?

10-13-2020, 09:20 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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Asahi Optical changed name to Pentax corporation, and was eventually sold to Hoya who kept the medical division and sold the camera division to Ricoh. Asahi Optical do not exist anymore. Nor does Pentax co.
10-13-2020, 09:27 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
Asahi Optical changed name to Pentax corporation, and was eventually sold to Hoya who kept the medical division and sold the camera division to Ricoh. Asahi Optical do not exist anymore. Nor does Pentax co.
Apologies for being pedantic, but Pentax Corporation was not sold to Hoya - that was a hostile takeover following a failed (and quite shady) merger attempt.
10-13-2020, 09:28 AM - 5 Likes   #4
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Asahi Optical and Pentax co. exist in our hearts

10-13-2020, 10:00 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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Hello,

From what I understand Asahi means rising sun in Japanese. The sun is very important in the Japanese culture. So nor surprisingly, many unrelated company names include the word Asahi.
The Asahi Optical Company became Pentax Corporation but it took them decades to transition.
Long after that we had the Hoya and eventually the Ricoh stories.

Thanks,
Ismael
10-13-2020, 10:17 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
Apologies for being pedantic, but Pentax Corporation was not sold to Hoya - that was a hostile takeover following a failed (and quite shady) merger attempt.
Want to elaborate? I enjoy learning the history of the brand and this description isn't what I understood for the transition.

My understanding is that Pentax was resistant to the merger/sale and Hoya had continuously offered more and more and eventually offered an over-valued price for the company ($1 billion dollars; ~10% overvaluation).
Pentax shareholders saw dollar signs and that pressure brought forth an agreement to sell. However, I believe the Pentax President at the time resigned because of the matter.
But I've only heard talk that the sale was a bad one for Hoya because of the overvaluation, that the deal was a mistake, worst deal for the family business, etc. because of the huge price tag they paid.
10-13-2020, 11:11 AM - 5 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
Want to elaborate? I enjoy learning the history of the brand and this description isn't what I understood for the transition.

My understanding is that Pentax was resistant to the merger/sale and Hoya had continuously offered more and more and eventually offered an over-valued price for the company ($1 billion dollars; ~10% overvaluation).
Pentax shareholders saw dollar signs and that pressure brought forth an agreement to sell. However, I believe the Pentax President at the time resigned because of the matter.
But I've only heard talk that the sale was a bad one for Hoya because of the overvaluation, that the deal was a mistake, worst deal for the family business, etc. because of the huge price tag they paid.
My understanding is somewhat different - but I've only saw part of the publicly available information, the truth might be different still.

So, Hoya's and Pentax' CEOs met and arranged the merger of the two companies - into Hoya Pentax HD Corporation. A main instigator was Sparx Asset Management, one of Pentax Corporation's major shareholder, who afterwards really pushed for the takeover and against Pentax maintaining independence.
It appears the deal was done without Pentax board's consent; as the Pentax CEO (Mr. Fumio Urano) was ousted, and they rejected the merger.

Following that, Hoya made a tender offer to acquire Pentax Corporation; apparently a lot of shareholder activism and pressure was made "under the counter", and after Pentax Corporation's attempts to resist failed, they "accepted" the offer.
Since they didn't really had a choice, I call that a hostile takeover.

I'm not aware of any over-valuing; resisting the merger, AFAIK, wasn't to get more money. I believe the medical division was highly valuable to Hoya (and the reason they wanted to get it no matter what); despite the comments made by the Hoya founder's grandson.
I'm not sure what was the initial plan for the camera division; but Hoya wanted high margins, and rumors of looking for a buyer were circulating as early as 2009 (JVC being the supposedly interested party).
Perhaps Hoya's lack of interest in this core Pentax business was one of the reasons the Pentax board resisted the merger. Without inside info, who knows...

Oh, and Pentax Corporation was profitable at that time; I'm mentioning this because occasionally I hear that Hoya "saved" Pentax
10-13-2020, 11:56 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
So, Hoya's and Pentax' CEOs met and arranged the merger of the two companies - into Hoya Pentax HD Corporation. A main instigator was Sparx Asset Management, one of Pentax Corporation's major shareholder, who afterwards really pushed for the takeover and against Pentax maintaining independence.
It appears the deal was done without Pentax board's consent; as the Pentax CEO (Mr. Fumio Urano) was ousted, and they rejected the merger.

Following that, Hoya made a tender offer to acquire Pentax Corporation; apparently a lot of shareholder activism and pressure was made "under the counter", and after Pentax Corporation's attempts to resist failed, they "accepted" the offer.
Since they didn't really had a choice, I call that a hostile takeover.
Thanks for your insight

Yes, I believe Hoya still received a lot of value from the Pentax patents such as the optical coatings for their medical equipment.
and the criticisms I've heard definitely reference the founder's grandson.
Interesting how I had read Mr. Urano 'resigned', but that could be seen as a somewhat polite way to 'oust' someone

10-13-2020, 12:10 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
From what I understand Asahi means rising sun in Japanese. The sun is very important in the Japanese culture. So nor surprisingly, many unrelated company names include the word Asahi.
Yep we even had a baseball team here in Vancouver called Asahi.

History - Asahi Baseball

Phil.
10-13-2020, 12:14 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
Thanks for your insight

Yes, I believe Hoya still received a lot of value from the Pentax patents such as the optical coatings for their medical equipment.
and the criticisms I've heard definitely reference the founder's grandson.
Interesting how I had read Mr. Urano 'resigned', but that could be seen as a somewhat polite way to 'oust' someone
My take is that he didn't have a choice.
Hoya and Sparx wanted him back, as they needed a more obedient CEO instead of the "rebel" Mr. Watanuki.
10-13-2020, 01:16 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
My take is that he didn't have a choice.
I wonder what the Pentax board saw in the deal that was so terrible that they'd prefer to fail a merger.

---------- Post added 10-13-20 at 02:38 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
Perhaps Hoya's lack of interest in this core Pentax business
QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
I hear that Hoya "saved" Pentax
I'm really happy that Ricoh is apparently maintaining core Pentax values while incorporating interesting Ricoh tech.
I'll say "Ricoh saved Pentax"!
10-13-2020, 01:52 PM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
I wonder what the Pentax board saw in the deal that was so terrible that they'd prefer to fail a merger.
Me too.

QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
I'm really happy that Ricoh is apparently maintaining core Pentax values while incorporating interesting Ricoh tech.
I'll say "Ricoh saved Pentax"!
I agree, and I would say the same. Particularly since they launched the K-1, and because of what is happening now.
Too bad Ricoh didn't have Pentax while the market was explosively growing - basically, Pentax lost the most propitious period for development
10-13-2020, 02:06 PM - 1 Like   #13
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My understanding is that even though Hoya said they would keep the camera division going the people at Pentax were skeptical. As it turned out, rightfully so. Pentax was sold to Ricoh for a super low price ( a friend said to to me "look how little Pentax is worth" ). It is fortunate Ricoh is interested in making cameras.
10-13-2020, 02:10 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxus Quote
My understanding is that even though Hoya said they would keep the camera division going the people at Pentax were skeptical. As it turned out, rightfully so. Pentax was sold to Ricoh for a super low price ( a friend said to to me "look how little Pentax is worth" ). It is fortunate Ricoh is interested in making cameras.
Ricoh purchased the imaging department and only leases the brand name 'Pentax' from Ricoh - a lease they renewed recently.
And part of that agreement is that Hoya can continue using the brand 'Pentax' on their medical equipment.
Since Ricoh didn't get the full scoop, they didn't pay full price.
That may be why it appears that 'Pentax' is worth so little.

Last edited by FozzFoster; 10-13-2020 at 02:21 PM.
10-13-2020, 09:33 PM - 1 Like   #15
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I'm guessing that spectacle lenses sold as Pentax are still part of Hoya? I wonder what happened to things like Pentax total stations (i.e., survey equipment)?
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