Canon to buy network video camera maker Axis

US$2.8 billion deal gives Canon IP camera know-how including image processing technologies

Canon is planning to buy Swedish security camera maker Axis Communications amid slumping demand for digital compact cameras.

The tender offer is worth about ¥333 billion (US$2.8 billion) and has been approved by the three largest shareholders in Axis, Canon said Tuesday.

Canon already makes its own security cameras, but with Axis it will gain a broad range of IP-based video surveillance products and an open application platform for third-party app development.

Cameras make up nearly 40 percent of Canon's sales, but as smartphones have damped sales of digital compact cameras, the company has pushed into medical equipment and network cameras.

Axis's network image processing technologies will enhance Canon's own offerings, it said. Meanwhile, Canon's optics technology, such as the 50-megapixel sensor in the new 5DS digital SLR could benefit the Axis lineup.

Canon wouldn't say what the deal could mean in terms of product innovation, but it follows a pattern of Canon acquiring companies in the same field that have an edge. For instance, in 2010 Canon acquired Dutch printer company Océ, whose high-output machines went beyond the range of Canon's multifunction office printers.

"We don't look to team up with companies that have technology that coincides or overlaps heavily with ours," Canon spokesman Richard Berger said. "We're looking for complementary fits."

Canon said the Axis brand, offices and management team will remain in place when the deal is complete, and Axis will operate as a separate legal entity in the Canon group.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

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Tim Hornyak

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