Kyocera has managed to crack open the mopier (printer and photocopying) market with the acquisition of embattled photocopy specialist Mita Industrial.
The alliance began over a year ago when under Japanese law Mita, which went `belly up', according to Kyocera's Australian and New Zealand managing director David Finn, choose Kyocera as its `rehabilitation sponsor'.
Through this arrangement Kyocera has since 1998 been reorganising and managing Mita under the jurisdiction of the Osaka District Court, eventually intending to incorporate Mita into Kyocera's ranks.
With an injection of 12 billion yen ($200 million) in capital, the appointment of several Kyocera directors to the newly named Kyocera Mita corporation and court approval this goal was formalised last week.
`This was a brilliant deal,' enthused Finn, who was excited about more than just the price.
With Mita's worldwide sales of $1.2 billion and its focus on analog and digital copiers, as well as computer-connectable peripherals such as network laser printers and wide format imaging solutions, Kyocera will now be able to operate in more diverse markets, across a wider spectrum of products.
The new company will initially structure itself around two separate entities; Kyocera Mita, which will focus on digital copiers, fax and multi-functional products; and Kyocera Electronics Australia, which will concentrate on the laser printer, optical and mobile telecommunications market.
Yet, according to Finn, this will only be the case in the early stages of the merger, as a strategy to take advantage of each company's strength unfolds.
`This whole merger reinforces the notion that the convergence between printers and photocopiers will become a reality,' said Finn. `Maybe in 12 months there will be true convergence when the R&D and product lines are rationalised.'
And, according to the printer expert, the two industries have complementary skills. `Where the photocopying industry falls apart is that they have trouble moving from analog to digital so they can network and so on. Printer companies know how to do this and Kyocera is the number one printer company in the network space. So if we combine Mita's high-end, high-speed paper handling skills with Kyocera's skills we can specialise in document management systems under 200ppm,' said Finn.
In the meantime Kyocera and Mita will simply utilise each other's market position and client base, selling both a printer and a photocopier into the same space.
`Mita is very established in the high-end corporate market and we're not. We are strong in markets they're not so we'll simply combine that way,' explained Finn.
Finn believes this is the first such partnership in the world, with companies like Canon and Xerox, which already have both photocopying and printer divisions, separating the two.
In terms of growth or revenue figures Finn was more subdued, suggesting it was too early to tell if the new entity would be able to knock Hewlett-Packard off its perch as the number one printer vendor.