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Private equity firm acquires Hasselblad

The storied medium-format camera maker is in new hands as Ventizz Capital Partners acquires it. The private equity firm plans to invest capital for growth.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
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Hasselblad Chairman Larry Hansen
Hasselblad Chairman Larry Hansen speaking at a Photokina press conference in 2010. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Professional camera manufacturer Hasselblad, a storied company based in Sweden that's wrestling with the transition to digital photography, has been acquired by Ventizz Capital Partners.

Specifically, the medium-format camera maker is now part of the Switzerland- and Germany-based private equity firm's Ventizz Capital Fund IV, the companies said today. The firm will provide new capital for a growth strategy, Ventizz said.

"We are proud to have such an iconic brand in our portfolio and are convinced that with solid financial support and a suitable growth strategy, Ventizz can further strengthen Hasselblad's position as the first-class producer of medium-format digital camera systems. Furthermore, we plan to develop Hasselblad cameras to appeal to a wider circle of ambitious photographers," said Helmut Vorndran, managing partner and CEO of Ventizz Capital Partners.

Since 2003, Hasselblad had been owned by Hong Kong-based Shriro Group, which still retains rights to distribute Hasselblad products in the Asia-Pacific region. Shriro Chief Executive Vasco Fung will serve another five-year term on Hasselblad's supervisory board.

Ventizz plans "no major structural or key management changes" at Hasselblad. "After eight years of ownership by the...Shriro Group, Hasselblad is now moving back to its European roots," Hasselblad Chairman and CEO Larry Hansen said in a statement.

Hasselblad's H4D-200MS
Hasselblad's H4D-200MS Hasselblad

Hasselblad's cameras cost tens of thousands of dollars and are used for professional purposes such as ads for fashion, cars, and jewelry. Back when film ruled the roost, medium-format cameras used larger film to enable higher-quality photos than was possible with conventional 35mm film.

In the digital era, though, the relative costs of the cameras have soared. Selling a larger format of film is somewhat more expensive than selling mainstream film, but selling a digital camera that uses a much larger image sensor chip is vastly more expensive. At the same time, SLR leaders Canon and Nikon have been aggressively courting studio photographers.

Meanwhile, medium-format digital camera specialist Phase One has been exerting pressure by taking control of Japanese medium-format camera maker Mamiya. Phase one offers 80-megapixel digital image sensors for its top-end products. Hasselblad offers mere 50-megapixel resolution, but a new $45,000 model, the HD4-200MS, can combine six shots into a single 200-megapixel image.

Hasselblad, a high-end camera maker on the mend after rough and unprofitable years, showed off this one of 499 special Ferrari-branded H4D medium-format cameras at the Photokina show in 2010.
Hasselblad, a high-end camera maker on the mend after rough and unprofitable years, showed off this one of 499 special Ferrari-branded H4D medium-format cameras at the Photokina show in 2010. Stephen Shankland/CNET