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Panavision Buys Plus8

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At press time, Panavision announced that it had acquired Burbank-based digital camera rental house Plus8digital. The privately-owned company did not disclose details of the transaction, but the acquisition gives Panavision facilities in Burbank, New York, Houston, Vancouver and a new Toronto Plus8 facility that recently opened, in addition to its 36 owned-and-operated facilities and 19 agents worldwide.With over 20 Grass Valley Vipers on its shelves, and approximately another 20 on order, Plus8digital is one of North America’s leading rental houses for Thomson’s flagship digital cinematography camera, and was one of the first rental houses to offer Carl Zeiss HD Digiprime lenses and Panasonic Varicam camcorders. The company also carries a large inventory of Sony F900s and F950s HD cameras.Bob Beitcher, president and CEO of Panavision, explained that the move was a strategic one, designed to expand the company’s offerings and address a different market segment than the company has traditionally dealt with. “Plus8 deals with a different group of customers and they’re in market segments that we’re not in right now,” he said.Panavision’s own digital camera offering, the Genesis, was a joint development with Sony. “Until now, particularly in North America, we’ve been very Sony-centric,” Beitcher added, “but more and more, we see customer demand for non-Sony digital cameras, particularly for Panasonic’s Varicam and Thomson’s Viper. We consider ourselves a world-class rental company that provides any gear that our customers are interested in renting.“So the acquisition of Plus8 gives us a large rental inventory of those cameras, but also a company that has been a pioneer in renting them, has a lot of experience and has its own well-developed and loyal customer base around that technology,” he concluded.Plus8digital’s founder and owner, Marker Karahadian, will remain with the company, serving as executive VP of Panavision.“The Plus8 team and I will increase the high-quality service and attention our customers are used to, because they will also benefit from Panavision’s global network,” said Karahadian.The acquisition gives Panavision overlapping facilities in New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto, but Beitcher explained that the company hasn’t made any decisions yet as to consolidation, staffing levels or even branding.“In some markets we may continue with the Plus8 brand, and in others, they’ll be folded into Panavision. We haven’t made those decisions yet,” he said. “At the moment we don’t have any specific plans to reduce staffing. We’ll have to see how that works out over time, but our business is expanding, so we’d like to think that we’re continuing to create new employment opportunities.”Beitcher explained that the company may be looking to grow through additional acquisitions. “In general, Panavision is looking, even outside of North America, to pick up some smaller, high-end, technically innovative, Plus8-type businesses in digital camera rentals.”

Written by Scott Lehane

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