Cooke Optics, Caledonia, Same Team

By now, the press releases are online, complete with Cooke mistooked as Cook, along with a distraction of financial figures. (Google: Cook Optics, Caledonia, StockMarketWire, Sharesmagazine.)

Les Zellan called with clarifications today. Caledonia Investments plc, a self-managed investment trust based in the UK, acquired a majority stake in Cooke Optics. The current Cooke management team and day-to-day company activities remain unchanged. Caledonia’s investment will facilitate company growth and development of new lenses. (I can hear Danys Bruyere muttering, as he reads this, whether it means faster delivery time. Perhaps.)

The current managers of Cooke Optics stay on: Les Zellan (Chairman), Robert Howard (Chief Executive Officer) and Alan Merrills (Chief Operating Officer). The worldwide sales and support crews. the design and manufacturing teams in Leicester all remain unchanged. It’s business as usual–with the same people in the same places.

Les said, “We have been experiencing a sustained period of growth, and the time was right to look for a new investor to help us develop further. Caledonia, another historic British company, has a reputation for long term investment and for supporting management teams to grow their businesses. With a strong financial partner in Caledonia, Cooke is in an excellent position to continue designing and making more of our coveted lenses for the film and television industry.

“Every series of lenses is designed from the ground up, not repurposed from existing components, and every lens is hand-crafted in the Leicester factory. Cooke’s most recent developments include the S7/i full frame lens range which correctly anticipated the current large format trend; the Panchro/i Classic range which replicate the look of vintage Speed Panchro lenses but with modern housing, mounts and glass; and the Anamorphic/i SF range that adds more exaggerated anamorphic attributes including lens flare and oval bokeh. The company is also behind the /i Technology lens metadata standard.”

Caledonia Investments plc is a  listed on the London Stock Exchange with net assets of approximately £1.8 billion as of 30 June 2018.

Caledonia’s history dates back to 1878 (10 years before Cooke Optics was established in 1888) when Sir Charles Cayzer founded Clan Line Steamers, the world’s largest cargo ship company. His sons purchased the Union-Castle line in the 1950s to create the British & Commonwealth Shipping Company.

More about/from Caledonia: “The next generation of Cayzers diversified into financial services and shrewd investments. Caledonia brings together old-fashioned family values and professional skill with the aim of achieving consistently outstanding performance. We back management teams who have demonstrated the ability to make money, by taking meaningful equity stakes. We try to avoid businesses that we do not understand and seek to be rational.

“Along with other professionals, two descendants of Sir Charles (fifth generation) are actively involved as executive directors. They are custodians of capital, aiming to generate and protect wealth for future generations.

“The company maintains a concentrated portfolio of international quoted, unquoted and fund investments and has paid an increasing annual dividend for 51 years.

“In the unquoted arena, Caledonia seeks to invest £25m to £100m in private companies, either on a majority or minority basis, providing a meaningful presence and growth capital supporting double-digit operating margins.”

The first press release went out on Monday morning, as reported by Sharesmagazine:

“Caledonia Investments said Friday it had acquired a majority stake in Cooke Optics Group in a transaction which valued the business at £96.5m.

“Under the terms of the deal, Caledonia subscribed £62.5m of equity and £30.0m of debt to acquire approximately 89% of Cooke from its current owners, Growth Capital Partners and Cooke’s management team.

“Cooke’s management team have reinvested £7.8m of their sales proceeds for the remaining equity, Caledonia Investments said.

“In its most recent audited consolidated accounts for the financial year to 30 June 2017, Cooke reported earnings (EBITDA) of £7.7m and profit before tax of £2.8m.



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