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Business

Konica Minolta buying German surveillance camera maker

Mobotix's surveillance camera can detect suspicious activities.

TOKYO -- Konica Minolta is acquiring German surveillance camera company Mobotix in an attempt to diversify beyond its sluggish office equipment operations.

     The Japanese company said Tuesday that it will purchase 65% of Mobotix shares in early May. The deal is estimated at between 20 billion yen and 30 billion yen ($177 million to $265 million).

     Mobotix is strong in cameras that can analyze images on their own to detect abnormalities, in addition to Internet protocol, or IP, cameras able to capture 360-degree images. Konica Minolta apparently was particularly keen on the image analysis capability.

     Usually, surveillance cameras only capture images, which are sent to a server for analysis. Rising resolutions and ever greater numbers of cameras demand servers with larger capacities.

     Mobotix uniquely puts the "brains," or the analysis capacity, into the camera itself to detect a suspicious person or car, among other things. It may send images to the server only when the sensor catches some motion. This reduces the amount of data sent to the server, thereby lowering its capacity requirements. Cameras do not need to be connected to servers at all times, either.

     Mobotix generated sales of 80 million euros ($90.1 million) in the year ended September 2015. About 60% of its revenue came from Europe. Now, its products will be marketed globally via Konica Minolta's sales channels.

     Konica Minolta intends to broaden the application of Mobotix's image analysis technologies to other areas, such as monitoring of the elderly in care facilities.

     The market for office equipment -- Konica Minolta's main business -- is maturing both in Japan and abroad. Faced with intense competition, the Tokyo-based company's group operating profit shrank 12% on the year in the April-December period to 41.5 billion yen.

     Konica Minolta hopes to increase sales from services utilizing Mobotix's technologies, targeting 70 billion yen to 80 billion yen over the next five years. The tally represents nearly 10% of its projected group sales for this fiscal year.

     Last June, Konica Minolta bought an American manufacturer of display-testing equipment for about 30 billion yen. Deals announced for the year ending Thursday now total about 80 billion yen -- the largest annual figure since 2003, when Konica Minolta was formed through the merger between Konica and Minolta.

(Nikkei)

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