Is Bowers & Wilkins to be acquired by Sound United LLC.?

The US American group Sound United LLC. is apparently still on a strict expansion course. This time the interest is in Bowers & Wilkins, one of the most prestigious loudspeaker brands. But while Sound United LLC. is already talking about a “Preliminary Agreement” for the takeover, Bowers & Wilkins is only saying that they are holding talks with Sound United LLC. about a merger.

Sound United LLC, this US-American group has been expanding for years. As a result, the company is playing an increasingly important role in the entire industry, as various takeovers of various established brands within a very short period of time have brought the company step by step closer to its declared goal of becoming one of the most important global players in the consumer electronics sector.

Sound United LLC, part of DEI Holdings, only really came into focus when the D+M Group was taken over in March 2017. At one stroke they united their own US-American brands Polk Audio, Boston Acoustics and Definitive Technology with the traditional Japanese brands Denon and Marantz. For Sound United LLC. this takeover was the first big step to be well positioned internationally.

In January 2019, Sound United LLC. acquired Classé Audio, a high-end hi-fi manufacturer, and in May 2019, the next big step was to be taken when the company announced its plans to acquire the home audio division of Onkyo Corporation. This would have meant taking over two other leading Japanese consumer electronics brands, Pioneer and Onkyo, but for various reasons the deal failed in October 2019 and it was announced that the plan to take over Pioneer and Onkyo would be abandoned.

Now, however, another bang goes on, this time with plans to acquire one of the most prestigious brands in the loudspeaker segment, Bowers & Wilkins. Bowers & Wilkins have made the headlines in recent years, most notably when they were taken over by a Silicon Valley start-up, EVA Automation. This was probably a heavy blow for the company, which likes to see itself as an exclusive, outstanding brand, to describe the manufacturer’s attitudes in a very, very friendly way…

But back to the current situation and the planned takeover by Sound United LLC., interestingly enough, this is about one report, but two different perceptions of the events.

Thus Sound United LLC. itself announces: “Sound United enters into a Preliminary Agreement to Acquire Bowers & Wilkins”. This headline alone, of course, does not announce anything final, but it shows a very clear “tone” and emphasizes who is pulling the strings.

What is interesting now is that this news item was followed a few hours later by another statement, namely from Bowers & Wilkins. Again, it is said that Sound United LLC. and Bowers & Wilkins are working on a common future, but the “tone” is completely different. This is the headline of the Bowers & Wilkins broadcast: “Bowers & Wilkins in talks with Sound United”. It’s only in the next sentence that the thrust of the message becomes a little clearer, as it says that… “World-leading premium audio business Bowers & Wilkins begins negotiations with Sound United to explore a possible combined future.

So the perception, or at least the way the current “connections” between the two companies could not be more different. While Sound United LLC. clearly states in one sentence that they want to take over Bowers & Wilkins, Bowers & Wilkins only speaks of talks about a possible combined future, explicitly emphasising several times that these are no more than initial talks.

Sound United LLC. also points out in its statement that negotiations are still in progress, but immediately gives the impression that it is first and foremost a matter for possible competition authorities… The proposed takeover is still subject to ongoing coordination, a confirmatory examination, official approvals and other necessary consents, it says.

“Over five decades, Bowers & Wilkins has built one of the most prestigious brands in the global loudspeaker market through industry-leading acoustic technology, iconic design and marketing. Bowers & Wilkins is an innovative brand and we look forward to the opportunity to close the transaction. This reflects Sound United’s unwavering focus on fulfilling its mission to bring joy to the world through sound.

Kevin Duffy, CEO of Sound United LLC.

Bowers & Wilkins’ statement, which was hastily followed up by the English, who were obviously a little taken aback by the announcement of Sound United LLC.

“Discussions between Bowers & Wilkins and Sound United are at an early stage with the aim of consolidating our premium brands into a new group that offers consumers even better opportunities. If our discussions are successful, combining Bowers & Wilkins’ engineering and manufacturing expertise in the premium category with the breadth of Sound United’s resources and capabilities could certainly be a decisive step for both brands. It would give the Bowers & Wilkins team even greater opportunities to focus on what we do best – building the best speakers in the industry.

Geoff Edwards, CEO of Bowers & Wilkins

There is one postscript in particular that is particularly explosive. The statement states: “Should the two brands decide on a common future, Sound United would take over all worldwide distribution and licensing agreements with third parties under which Bowers & Wilkins’ premium audio products are currently sold. This does not affect Bowers & Wilkins’ existing product portfolio or the products that Bowers & Wilkins currently sells or its current worldwide operations.

So it remains extremely exciting to see how things develop.

Getting to the point

One message, two different perceptions, that’s probably the best way to put it, what is currently known about the negotiations between Sound United LLC. and Bowers & Wilkins. While Sound United LLC. is already clearly talking about plans to take over the renowned loudspeaker brand, Bowers & Wilkins has been much more reserved. They are already holding initial talks about a common future, it is simply stated here. Obviously, they want to avoid the impression that Bowers & Wilkins is simply being taken over by Sound United LLC. “swallowed”…

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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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