Leica’s boss has sold a 44% ‘minority stake’ to US private equity firm Blackstone, both parties have confirmed.

Leica has pledged to ‘expand the business into new markets’ in the wake of the deal which was announced on Wednesday.

Leica chairman Andreas Kaufmann said: ‘With Blackstone we have gained an experienced and internationally established strategic partner, which also understands and appreciates the established brand philosophy and business model of Leica.’

Blackstone’s head office is in New York.

Kaufmann’s firm, ACM, retains nearly 54% of Leica.