Meade Instruments Corp. (est. 1972), one of the world's largest designers and manufacturers of telescopes and accessories for amateur astronomers, and Jinghua Optics & Electronics Co., Ltd. (JOC) announced May 17 that Meade and JOC's wholly owned subsidiary, JOC North America LLC (JOCNA), and JOCNA's wholly owned merger subsidiary have signed a definitive merger agreement for JOCNA to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Meade for approximately $4.5 million, or $3.45 per share. The acquisition will be paid with cash and is expected to be completed by the end of July 2013, subject to shareholder approval.
JOC (est. 1997), with manufacturing facilities in Guangzhou and Kunming, China, is also the parent company of Explore Scientific, LLC (USA) and Meade Instruments Europe GmbH & Co. KG (Germany). As a leader in Asia's optoelectronic field, JOC manufactures a full range of precision astronomical telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, digital microscopes, lens modules for digital cameras and mobile phones, digital night vision, laser rangefinders, and optical engines for micro projectors.
Meade Europe, which is also supporting the acquisition financially, was established in 1957. Meade Europe was a subsidiary of Meade Instruments Corp. from 1999 until 2009, when it was acquired by JOC, former owner Rolf Bresser, and its general manager, Helmut Ebbert. Meade Europe continued, and will continue, to be a distributor for Meade and Coronado products in much of Europe.
Founded in 2008, Explore Scientific began designing new telescopes and high-end eyepieces, including the world's widest apparent field eyepiece in its 120° Series Waterproof Eyepiece. In 2009, Explore Scientific became the exclusive distributor of BRESSER products throughout the Americas.
Steve Murdock, CEO of Meade, remarked: "We believe that this transaction is in the best interests of our stockholders and that Meade's legacy will be in good hands going forward. We have a long relationship with both JOC and Meade Europe — Meade's former subsidiary and longstanding European distributor which Meade sold to JOC in January 2009 — as well as with Scott Roberts, currently president of Explore Scientific LLC [and] previously one of Meade's vice presidents until 2007. This is a very exciting time for Meade as we believe that the combined companies will be better equipped to deal with today's competitive consumer optics environment and will continue to provide customers with innovative products, cutting-edge technology, and outstanding optical quality."
He Jian, JOC's CEO, remarked: "As a longtime supplier to Meade, we are honored that the board of directors has accepted our proposal. We believe this acquisition will give our family of companies even stronger capabilities and will allow us to expand our offering of research-quality astronomical optical products and the service required for a demanding clientele."
Helmut Ebbert, managing partner of Meade Europe, said: "We are very pleased with this engagement, and we believe this synergy will provide continuity and a promising future for the Meade brand worldwide."
"I am especially pleased with this global reunion with Meade. I believe it will give us a rare opportunity in our industry to combine the best of what all of our companies have to offer," stated Scott Roberts, president of Explore Scientific, which will manage operations of Meade after the acquisition.