The Leica Camera Group has effectively been saved by increasing its share capital, thereby raising ?22.95m, according to a spokesman for the Germany-based company. Leica issued 13.5m new shares in a move that it hopes will help restructure the group. At the time of writing ?22.95m was equivalent to around £15.5m.

?This means we can go on with our restructuring concept and concentrate on product, customers and market,? said Leica Camera AG spokesman Gero Furchheim.

When asked whether it was fair to say that the share capital increase had saved the group, Furchheim replied: ?Yes?.

Earlier this year Leica was keen to reassure its UK customers that it was ?business as usual? after Leica Camera Group reported an expected loss of ?10m for the year to 31 March 2005.

The group remained positive despite global sales for the first nine months of the last fiscal year being 15.5% below those for the same period the previous year (see AP 19 March). The Leica camera business suffered a sales drop of 35% for the same period.

In a statement, Leica Camera AG said that the share capital increase would be ?the foundation for the reorientation of Leica Camera AG? and that it serves as ?confirmation for the positive medium-term perspective to work successfully with digital and analogue photo products, as well as with innovative solutions in sport optics?.

Commenting in general terms on the share capital increase, Roland Wolff, managing director of Leica Camera Ltd ? the UK subsidiary of the Leica Camera Group ? told AP: ?We, of course, welcome this development. This is a step in the right direction for the group.?