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Telescope Manufacturer Celestron Bought by Synta

General NewsI received the following message from Dr. Chuck Larson, AOAS Education Director, in an email this afternoon. Many people may not have realized that a deal was in the works for Celestron to be bought out by another company as I was unaware, but after reading the message below I feel that this might be a benefit to us as amateur astronomers in the long run. I offer this story as I received it for your inspection and contemplation.


Leading telescope manufacturer purchased by long term overseas optics manufacturer

TORRANCE, CA -- April 6, 2005 --

Celestron, one of the world's leading designers and manufacturers of telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes and microscopes, today announced that SW Technology Corporation, a Delaware company, an affiliate of Synta Technology Corporation ("Synta") acquired all of the outstanding members ownership interests of the company. Synta is a well-known optics manufacturer that has participated in the development of some of Celestron's most popular products, such as the NexStar GT computerized telescope line. Synta has been a Celestron supplier for over 15 years.

Celestron will continue to be led by the senior management team of Joseph A. Lupica and Richard L. Hedrick with Chairman Alan Hale and Celestron founder Tom Johnson remaining as consultants. Synta and its related companies will continue to manufacture and supply other telescopes and related products for Celestron. As a result of the acquisition, Celestron will be in a position to meet all current financial obligations and continue to lead the product engineering, development and manufacturing processes from the Torrance, California headquarters. All product warranties will stay in effect and product support will not be interrupted or delayed. The company's first goal is to fill a three month backlog of product orders and work to resume full scale production and product development operations.

"I have always had great admiration and respect for Celestron's products and have had a very close and warm relationship with the company and its management team for the past 15 years," said David Shen, Synta founder. "I am committed to maintaining Celestron's reputation of quality and innovation and will support their continued efforts to create and engineer products that give value to the consumer. I want to assure everyone that Celestron's operations will remain in Torrance, the management team will stay intact, and Celestron will continue to develop innovative products of the highest quality for amateur astronomers."

Shen said that since the reorganization in 2002 Celestron has been unable to take advantage of the market demand for its products because it was under capitalized. In addition, the long and expensive litigation initiated by its US competitor made it more difficult for the company to meet customer demands for existing and new products. Shen says those issues are now in the past. With the additional capital infusion required for the growth of the company, Shen has "full confidence that the current senior management team will be able to carry through the expansion of Celestron and continue to develop and manufacture high-end telescopes and related products to its loyal clientele."

"Synta has deep understanding of the telescope industry and appreciation for the value of Celestron's products," said Celestron CEO Joseph A. Lupica. "They are investing in Celestron to grow Celestron's business and that is a very positive development. This acquisition is in the best interest of Celestron dealers, employees, consumers and the telescope industry as a whole. Synta and Celestron will form a strong team to provide competitive products of the highest quality for consumers." Lupica added, "I am very excited to be in a position whereby our entire workforce will be able to focus 100% of our energies on the development, production and distribution of high quality optical products. I am just as excited when I consider the innovative products we will be able to develop with the assistance of one of the leading telescope suppliers in the world, Synta Technology. It's time to go back to work for our customers doing what we do best."

This acquisition takes place among rumors that Celestron would be purchased by their main competitor, Meade Instruments. Although officials at Meade Instruments have expressed an interest in acquiring Celestron, the action has been blocked by the FTC several times. According to Lupica, Meade has continually approached Celestron management with buyout offers over the past few years. He pointed out that Celestron's senior management had a fiduciary responsibility to consider all reasonable offers, including an offer from a major competitor that would be subject to them obtaining the approval of the FTC. Celestron management also negotiated with several other interested parties before accepting Synta's offer.

In response to a recent article in the Orange County Register, Lupica said, "We chose not to comment for the OC Register article because we felt it was inappropriate to comment on matters that were still in negotiation. Contrary to previous reports that the company is being purchased for a price below liquidation value, in fact each existing owner is getting a return on their original investment."

About Celestron

With corporate offices and manufacturing, in Torrance, California, Celestron has been a leading designer, manufacturer and importer of high-quality optical products including telescopes and related accessories, binoculars and microscopes for almost 40 years. Celestron is a leader in the sale of performance telescopes worldwide and has very strong brand-name recognition among serious amateur astronomers for superior optics, outstanding design, and innovative technology. Celestron sells its products worldwide through a variety of specialty retail outlets and international distributors. Celestron is a privately held company.

Known throughout the world for superior optics, Celestron is recognized for many industry firsts including:

* First to offer a commercially available fully computerized "GoTo" telescope

* First to offer GPS telescopes

* First to offer a commercially available Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope

* First to offer commercially available Schmidt cameras

* First to offer a larger aperture Schmidt-Cassegrain (22") true observatory telescope for consumers or research facilities

* First to offer PEC (Periodic Error Correction) in consumer telescopes

* First to offer StarBrightŪ multi-coatings for the highest throughput transmission

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