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Synta (Celestron), Ningbo Sunny (Meade) et. al -- Latest

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#1 MJB87

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Posted 18 December 2020 - 11:01 AM

Hi everyone,

 

There has been a lot of information and speculation in various posts about the status of Synta, Celestron, Sunny and Meade. I thought it made sense to create a new thread to capture all this in one place.  Let me start off..

 

Suzhou Synta is a company based in Jiansu, China that makes telescopes and equipment.  It was formed in 1992 as a subsidiary of Synta Corporation of Taoyuan, Taiwan.  It appears that Synta Corporation itself dissolved in the past year or so. Thus going forward, "Synta" really means Suzhou Synta.  The company is owned primarily by Dar-Tson Shen, his sister Sylvia Shen and other family members, many of whom live in British Columbia. The company purchased Celestron in 2005. It also owns the Sky-Watcher brand of telescopes and has manufactured items for Orion and Tasco.

 

Ningbo Sunny Electronics is a company based in Ningbo, China as a subsidiary of the large Sunny Optical company, itself registered as a holding company in the Cayman Islands. Ningbo Sunny acquired the Meade company in 2013. There are strong connections between Ningbo Sunny and Synta. Until 2005, Dar-Tson Shen owned 26% of Ningbo Sunny and was Vice Chairman. He relinquished his Vice Chairman role in 2005 and transferred his 26% ownership to his sister-in-law, Dong Yun Xue.

 

The history here is interesting. When Celestron was for sale in 2002, Meade attempted to purchase it. The Federal Trade Commission in the US effectively blocked that sale, with the consequence that Celestron was acquired by Sunny (who was already making telescopes for Celestron at its Chinese subsidiary.) The US authorities made clear that it would view consolidated ownership of Meade and Celestron as anti-competitive.

 

A recent lawsuit was made by Optronics Technologies (Orion) alleging that Synta (Celestron) and Ningbo Sunny (Meade) conspired to get around the antitrust issues by having Ningbo Sunny acquire Meade, while behind the scenes Synta would help fund that acquisition, provide leadership for the new Meade owners, and agree to divide up the market for "recreational" telescopes between them.  The Orion suit was against both Synta and Ningbo Sunny.  Synta decided to settle, giving Orion $500,000 for terminating its lawsuit.  Ningbo Sunny went to court -- and lost big. The jury awarded Orion $16.8 million in damages which then was trebled in accordance with US antitrust law to $50.4 million.  You can read the court filing here. (It makes fascinating reading. You won't believe what these companies put in email traffic. No wonder Synta decided to quickly settle.)

 

Now there is a class-action lawsuit in the US against Synta and Ningbo Sunny underway arguing that purchasers of telescopes in the US were harmed by inflated prices. A similar class-action lawsuit has started in Canada.

 

Here is where we are with these companies:

 

Ningbo Sunny in December 2019 filed for bankruptcy for its Meade subsidiary under Chapter 11, which seeks to protect the organization as a going concern. There are rumors that they are looking for a buyer.

 

Synta Corporation of Taiwan seems have been dissolved in 2019, which still leaves Suzhou Synta of China, still controlled by the Shen family, many of whom live in Canada. Suzhou Synta and its sister companies still own Celestron and Sky-Watcher. They escaped serious consequences from the Orion lawsuit by settling, but still may be affected by the class-action suits underway.

 

Marty


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#2 Bowlerhat

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Posted 18 December 2020 - 03:30 PM

Plaintiff I. Baban says he purchased a Celestron 21024 FirstScope telescope on Amazon as a Christmas gift for his son in 2016, and purchased the same telescope model for a friend’s birthday in December 2016. He reportedly paid $68.97 each for the telescopes. 

 

According to the telescope price-fixing class action lawsuit, Baban paid an artificially inflated price for the telescopes due to anticompetitive conduct of the defendants.

Hmmm...

 

Also you forgot mr. Hightower's class action suit.



#3 MJB87

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Posted 18 December 2020 - 03:45 PM

Yes, there are a lot of these class-action lawsuits emerging.  It appears a judge ruled in September that they should be combined but I don't have the details on that.



#4 jerr

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Posted 19 December 2020 - 04:42 AM

Have a comment here but would be considered as political hence need to pass...



#5 Fred Sensabaugh

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 11:17 AM

Because if the law suits by Orion against Synta; is Synta withholding sending Orion labeled telescopes to US sellers or are all the back orders caused solely by the Covid-19 pandemic? Something smells funny here.



#6 alphatripleplus

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 11:43 AM

 The jury awarded Orion $16.8 million in damages which then was trebled in accordance with US antitrust law to $50.4 million.  You can read the court filing here. (It makes fascinating reading. You won't believe what these companies put in email traffic. No wonder Synta decided to quickly settle.)

 

 

I haven't followed this closely, but as of last summer there is still ongoing litigation between Orion and Ningbo over the earlier court order.



#7 dudeyes62

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 05:47 PM

I just read the complaint. The plaintiffs have the emails from Synta/Ningbo/Celestron/Meade where it's obvious that Synta/Ningbo are conspiring to fix prices and policies. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't know what defense Synta/Ningbo would have.  The emails seem like smoking guns to me. Maybe someone on CN who does have legal experience could explain this better.

 

However, even if Hightower, wins, expect both Synta and Ningbo to declare bankruptcy to avoid paying out any settlement. Also, expect more shell companies in US VI and Caymans to instantly pop up registered in David Shen ( owner of Synta ) and his sisters names at around the same time as the bankruptcies that have instant injections of hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

What this will mean for who makes Celestron and Meade products is open to question.

 

Also, I didn't know Sky-watcher and Olivon were also  owned by David Shen. What else does he or his family own that we don't know about?



#8 luxo II

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 12:59 AM

The real beneficiaries of class-action lawsuits are the lawyers running the case - not consumers.

 

The compensation any consumer included in the action is likely to receive is a gift card for something like a Celestron sticker, maybe a 30mm finderscope if you're lucky...

 

But the money for the settlement terms - and the lawyers - has to come from somewhere - which ultimately are the consumers being scopes in the future - so prices will go up.

 

As for brands - that they own Skywatcher was well-known here for many years; I expect they also own Saxon (a low-end brand used to off-load obsolete products at bargain prices) and quite likely the no-name brands used to sell entry-level refractors at supermarket chains, department stores, and photographic shops.


Edited by luxo II, 29 March 2021 - 01:11 AM.


#9 jerr

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 01:31 AM

If one is loyal to a brand it's time to buy Meade or Celestron. Both may be history soon.



#10 luxo II

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 03:06 AM

An OTA perhaps but anything electronic, no.

#11 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 08:29 AM

The real beneficiaries of class-action lawsuits are the lawyers running the case - not consumers.

 

 

Whatever the monetary benefits are, the consumer benefits because it makes the marketplace more competitive.  If Synta controls Meade and Celestron as well as Skwatcher and various other brands, that is anti-competitive.  

 

When Sunny bought Meade, it took it out of the hands of Jinghua/Explore Scientific.  That was the natural solution.  Celestron chose Synta to replace their Japanese suppliers and eventually Synta took over Celestron.  Jinghua was Meade's choice to replace their Japanese suppliers and had Jingua ended up with Meade, the market would have been more competitive.

 

As it was, the unknown Sunny came in at the last moment and bought Meade out of bankruptcy.  And then they find out that Sunny is actually controlled by Synta.. 

 

Jon




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