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Astorg Partners has signed an agreement with AXA Private Equity to buy Photonis. Astorg Partners will become Photonis's majority shareholder alongside the management team. This transaction comes after seven years during which AXA Private Equity has maintained ongoing support for the company.

Photonis is an international high-technology group specializing in photo sensor technology. The Group primarily operates on the night vision, industrial and scientific applications and medical imaging markets.

Photonis Group was formed from the December 2001 acquisition of Photonis SAS, a former subsidiary of Netherlands-based Philips, followed by five add-on acquisitions: Netherlands-based Delft Electronic Products B.V and US-based Burle Industries Inc. in 2005, Antheryon's assets in 2006, Netherlands-based Hi-Light Opto Electronics B.V. in 2007 and the assets of UK-based Brennel Glass Ltd in 2008.

Thierry Timsit, Managing Partner at Astorg Partners said "We are delighted with this acquisition, in which Photonis management team and many employees will retain an equity stake. The Group is now a world leader in photo-sensors and is backed by unrivalled scientific expertise, cutting edge know-how in production and strong vertical integration to pursue expansion." Christian Couturier, Director at Astorg Partners, added that "Photonis is now fully equipped to launch an ambitious acquisition strategy designed to become the no. 1 European independent player in optical-electronic defence components, while boosting its presence in civil applications. Astorg is looking to bring the company and its management the support and funding in order to fully implement its strategy."

Following the signature of the agreement, Goossen Boers, CEO of Photonis, commented: "The backing of Astorg Partners, a highly motivated and experienced shareholder providing long-term support for Photonis, will enable us to pursue our growth strategy and to realize our plans for acquisitions. We strive to anticipate and surpass our customers' expectations on an ongoing basis. The very buoyant demand for increasingly high-performing, combined and integrated sensors on various platforms is fuelling our growth and motivation."

As a majority shareholder since 2001, AXA Private Equity has been an operational, loyal and committed investor for Photonis bringing a long-term vision to the company's development. Philippe Poletti, Managing Director at AXA Private Equity, commented "we have supported the management team by providing them with the funds the company required to invest in R&D and industrial assets as well as acquisitions and move into high value-added markets."

AXA Private Equity and management have decided that Photonis will pay an exceptional bonus to all employees prior to the end of 2008, as recognition for their contribution to the group's performance and development.

ING Bank has been appointed as Global Mandated Lead Arranger, Sole Bookrunner and Agent for the financing of the transaction.

AXA Private Equity has appointed BNP Paribas Corporate Finance as exclusive M&A advisor for this transaction, which remains subject to the approval of several countries' administrative authorities including anti-trust authorities.

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