Updated on May 10, 2021
Sonova Holding AG announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire the Consumer Division from Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co KG (Sennheiser). The Sennheiser Consumer Division, which concentrates on the business of headphones and hearables for private customers, is said to be “an excellent fit with Sonova’s strategy to lead innovation in hearing experience and to engage consumers early on their hearing journey.” According to Sonova’s announcement, “the strength of the brand and the well-established complementary distribution network of the Sennheiser Consumer Division represent strong assets to further the strategy of Sonova.” The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and expected to close in the second half of calendar year 2021.
The opportunities and synergies between hearing aids and consumer headsets are increasingly evident, with three of the “Big 5” global hearing aid manufacturers now involved in the headset market. GN Audio, which owns Jabra and the Evolve line of products, continues to make impressive financial gains, and its headsets are now a larger revenue source for the company than GN Hearing (ReSound, Beltone, Audigy). In 2020, GN Audio delivered 42% organic revenue growth (compared to -24% for its Hearing division), helped in part by the pandemic-induced need for headsets. Demant (parent company of Oticon, Sonic, and Bernafon) had been a 50/50 partner with Sennheiser Communications in manufacturing and distributing products for about 15 years until it established EPOS which focuses on high-end Enterprise Solutions and Gaming headsets, while Sennheiser said it would focus on Mobile Music headsets. The two companies announced that by January 2020 they would be pursuing these separate segments, stating that the parting was in good faith, and at that time said they would continue cooperation where synergies and opportunities exist.
Highlights of the Sonova/Sennheiser Purchase:
- The deal will allow Sonova to further expand its portfolio of products; to capture growth opportunities, in particular in the fast-growing market for true wireless headsets and the emerging segment of speech enhanced hearables; and to further expand its channel presence and customer base.
- Sonova will leverage the combination of its audiological expertise together with the strong Sennheiser brand and competence in delivering a “high-quality sound experience.”
- The Sennheiser Consumer Division, with currently around 600 employees contributing to this business area worldwide, generates sales of around EUR 250 million (USD $304 million) annually through a broad online and in-store distribution network.
Arnd Kaldowski, CEO of Sonova, said: “I am very pleased that Sennheiser has chosen Sonova to further develop the well-renowned Consumer Division. We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues and to building on the combined strengths of both organizations to successfully shape our joint future. The fast-growing market for personal audio devices is rapidly evolving. Combining our audiological expertise with Sennheiser’s know-how in sound delivery, their great reputation as well as their high-quality products will allow us to expand our offering and to create important touchpoints with consumers earlier in their hearing journey. Combining our market-leading technology with the strong brand and well-established distribution network of Sennheiser creates a strong foundation for future growth.”
“We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than Sonova for our Consumer Division,” said Daniel Sennheiser, co-CEO at Sennheiser. “Sonova is a strong, well-positioned company. Not only do we share a passion for unique audio experiences, we also share very similar corporate values. This gives us an excellent foundation for a successful future together.”
Co-CEO Dr Andreas Sennheiser added: “The combination of our strengths provides a very good starting point for future growth. We are convinced that Sonova will strengthen the Sennheiser Consumer Division in the long term and capture the major growth opportunities.”
Sennheiser’s portfolio of personal audio devices “fits well with Sonova’s vision to foster a world where everyone can enjoy the delight of hearing.” According to the company’s announcement, “Sennheiser stands for extraordinary sound and a unique audio experience – always tailored to the needs of its customers.” The product offering of its Consumer Division includes premium headphones – especially in the True Wireless segment – as well as audiophile headphones, enhanced hearing solutions, and soundbars. They are sold through a “well-established, complementary distribution network by Sennheiser’s own subsidiaries and long-established trading partners” in more than 50 countries, both online and in-store.
This acquisition helps support an important element of Sonova’s strategy, according to the company; “to reach ever more consumers, wherever their journey towards better hearing begins.” Personal audio devices have become an integral part of everyday life as people interact with their digital devices increasingly through sound. As hearing loss occurs in most cases as a normal part of ageing, first remedial steps may include non-medical solutions to enhance hearing in specific situations. Sonova believes that such complementary solutions will ultimately expand the traditional hearing aid market by increasing adoption rates.
The purchase price for the Sennheiser Consumer Division amounts to EUR 200 million (USD $243 million), which will be financed through the existing cash balance. A licensing agreement on customary terms for the Sennheiser brand will be in place in perpetuity. The deal is expected to be EPS accretive immediately. Closing is foreseen in the second half of 2021 after obtaining the relevant regulatory approvals.