Sonova Acquires Advanced Bionics Corp for $489 Million

Sonova Holding AG, Stäfa, Switzerland, parent company of Phonak and Unitron, reports it has entered into a share purchase agreement with the shareholders of Advanced Bionics Corp (AB), Valencia, Calif, expanding its position as a provider of hearing care solutions. The purchase of $489 million will be fully paid in cash, and pending regulatory and shareholder approval, the transaction is expected to close in February.

AB is present in more than 30 countries and has become the global number-two with an estimated share of approximately 18% of the cochlear implant market. A statement issued by Sonova stated that AB is one of the global leaders in the development, manufacturing, and distribution of cochlear implant systems, with revenues of $117 million in 2008.

The acquisition represents a strategic expansion into the area of cochlear implants for the Sonova Group. According to Sonova, it is entering into the high-growth market of cochlear implant systems with expected market growth rates of 10% to 15% per annum and plans to improve the performance of AB, doubling sales and increasing EBITA margin to 20% or beyond within the next 3 to 5 years. “With this transaction, Sonova adds a new source of sustainable business growth and enhances its position as the leading provider of hearing health care solutions,” said Valentin Chapero, CEO, Sonova Group. “With all its brands, Sonova will offer the most comprehensive and innovative product and service portfolio covering any customer need for most types of hearing problems.”

Jeffrey Greiner, CEO of AB, said that “Sonova was attracted to our company for our advanced technology, commitment to our patients, and our potential for expansion.” As with Phonak, AB will remain an independent division within Sonova.

Sonova also reports that it is immediately terminating the share buyback program for up to 10% of its share capital, which started on September 20, 2007. The value of the shares repurchased was CHF 200.7 million (about $200.5 million).


American Hearing Aid Associates Convention on Horizon

American Hearing Aid Associates (AHAA), Chadds Ford, Pa, will hold its 14th annual convention on February 10 to 13, 2010, in Dallas at the Gaylord Texan Resort. More than 450 hearing care professionals—associates in the AHAA network—and others are expected to attend. The program will offer nearly 40 ASHA, AAA, and IHS-approved sessions covering all aspects of running a practice. Sessions will cover the interests of CEOs/owners, directors of operations/practice managers, hearing care providers, telemarketing/front office personnel, and practice development representatives in all sizes and types of practices. It will feature highly interactive, hands-on workshops where attendees will share ideas and experiences with each other. Heavy emphasis will be placed on showing associates how to gain the most benefit from AHAA’s Navigator online service, which gives 16 links to tools a practice owner/manager needs to develop, focus, and drive measureable objectives in growing the practice. Many manufacturers will be exhibiting. For information, call Carolyn Wolff at (800) 984-3272, ext 355.

EarQ Group, Widex Join Forces

EarQ Group, Syracuse, NY, has added Widex as one of its manufacturing partners, thus allowing EarQ Group members to receive its business resources and Widex’s product line. EarQ Senior VP Cary Dawson said that “in today’s competitive times and with the current economy, it is more crucial than ever to give our members every advantage, including all practice resources and excellent products in quality and technology under our brand.”

EarQ Group, a nationwide network of more than 900 practice locations that are independently owned and operated, provides members with practice support, including value-based marketing, business tools, audiology support, and staff training.