Leica Camera AG?s CEO Andreas Kaufmann has spoken to a German news website about the removal of the firm?s former CEO Steven K Lee and the company?s future.

In an interview with Handelsblatt.com Kaufmann admitted that Leica and Lee were ?not such a good match?, adding that when Lee was at the helm ?things happened which must not happen in a company?.

He declined to elaborate, explaining that there will ?probably be a lawsuit? between the two parties relating to Lee?s departure.

In the interview, published yesterday, Kaufmann suggested to Handelsblatt.com journalist Olaf Storbeck that the matter had been settled: ?We made a compensation offer which we considered attractive. The deadline for [Lee?s lawyers] accepting the offer has passed.?

Lee’s departure has been associated with comments made by Lee at the recent PMA trade show in Las Vegas.

Speaking about the M8, Kaufmann said Leica wants to inform customers that the M8 is a ?long-term project? but remained tight-lipped about a follow-up model. He said: ?Of course, we will introduce a follow-up to the M8 eventually. There is a lot of speculation going on about when and how we will do that. I?m not going to comment on those rumours today. But you can assume that our project managers? and our research department are working at full throttle.?

When asked whether there will be further upgrades to the M8 (in addition to the scratch-resistant screen and quieter shutter announced last month) Kaufmann declined to comment ?at this point in time?.

He also spoke of the need to widen the M8?s customer base. ?Our next steps are intended to offer interesting solutions for a different clientele,? he continued, conceding that the M8 will ?never be a camera for the mass market?.

Kaufmann said Leica is working towards convincing more people of certain advantages of the rangefinder system ?especially with regard to wideangle lenses and available light photography?.

When asked how the R-system will continue in the digital world he said Leica is working on a ?solution? and that journalists will be given a ?clue? about this development at the Photokina trade show in Germany this autumn.

Commenting on the interview, Leica Camera Limited?s UK-based managing director David Bell said such remarks are ?refreshing? in today?s commercial climate.

Bell added: ?I am not sure CEOs of other companies would be so open but then most CEOs are not the majority shareholder.

?The lack of a definitive answer on some topics is entirely understandable as our R&D teams can take different routes as they hit both opportunities and problems during a development process.

?When you mix this in with the dynamic photo market you can understand the logic of keeping ?our cards? close to our chest.?

Handelsblatt.com is the website of German newspaper Handelsblatt.

To read the full interview with Handelsblatt.com click here.


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