Canon Inc. said on March 5 that it had taken a majority stake in Dutch printer maker Oce in a 730 million euro (US$1 billion) buyout.

Canon offered 8.60 euros in cash for each share with the aim to take full ownership of the Netherlands-based manufacturer of office copiers and printers, whose management fully supports the bid, a joint statement said.

Oce is Europe's biggest printer manufacturer, with markets in Europe and the United States.

The takeover is the largest deal in Canon's history.

"With this announcement, Canon and Oce have successfully taken an important first step in their aim to create the overall number one presence in the printing industry," the joint statement said.

The Japanese office equipment and digital camera maker said it would extend its tender offer for Oce shares, since it had only acquired 71% of the shares, short of its target of 85% ownership. Some shareholders were opposed to what they considered an undervalued bid, among them equity fund Orbis which holds 10% of the capital.

Canon has enjoyed strong sales of digital single-lens reflex cameras in recent years, but its sales of photocopiers and precision machinery have been hit hard by the global economic downturn.

It said net profit tumbled 57.4% last year to 131.6 billion yen (US$1.5 billion.)

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010