Hoya manufactures most of the optical glass used in the Japanese camera industry. I think it's about a 15 billion USD/year company.
I believe the merger was voted down by Pentax's board last week and their chairman (who was backing it) felt obliged to "resign".
From what I read, the rationale for the merger was as follows:
- Hoya's future is less secure because alternative sources of optical glass are appearing and since the form factors of the lenses are shrinking - they are simply at risk of selling dramatically less optical glass in the future
- One of the markets that is likely to show continued demand for optical glass in the future is medical diagnostic equipment. Pentax has diversified into this area with considerable success in the past 20 years.
- Pentax is not cash rich and, as matters stand now, they will not be able to "run with the big dogs" (Canon, Sony, Nikon, Samsung) in the digital age
- Hoya is very cash rich
So it's a hedging of bets for both.
I believe what's killed the merger for the moment (and Hoya has pledged to continue pursuing it) is that Pentax has been putting up very good numbers because of nice margins on DSLRs and a weak Yen. As a result, the proposed share price for the buyout seemed less than generous to a group of "activist shareholders" (seems they are springing up everywhere now...)
Pentax sells nothing I'm interested in these days, but it would be sort of sad if they left the photography playing field altogether a la Konica-Minolta last year.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11