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Bowers & Wilkins Shops Buyers, Sound United Stick Their Hand Up

Sound United the owners of the Denon, Polk Marantz, and Klipsch brands in Australia is hoping to acquire Bowes & Wilkins as the UK Company shops buyers.

The move is an interesting one as the bulk of Sound United brands are sold via Qualifi and Westan in Australia, while Bowers and Wilkins operation in Australia is a highly successful subsidiary of the UK sound Company that hit financial problems late last year.

Last year Bowers & Wilkins appointed former Samsung Vice President Phil Newton to head their operation in Australia. Within months the B&W range appeared in Harvey Norman stores.

This year and during the COVID-19 crisis B&W Australia have seen a 30% jump in sales with the local subsidiary one of the best performing operations in the world for the UK Company that was itself acquired by US technology Company Eva Automation in 2016.

Joe Atkins, B&W’s CEO and a majority stakeholder in the business at the time sold the 1000-strong UK speaker company to Gideon Yu, a former Facebook chief financial officer and venture capitalist, and the current co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers.

He had a manic obsession that he could take on Sonos in the networked speaker market.

At the weekend Sound United announced it has entered into a preliminary agreement to acquire Bowers & Wilkins, with the British speaker brand stating that negotiations with Sound United have begun “to explore a possible combined future”.

Kevin Duffy, CEO at Sound United said “B&W is a transformative brand and we look forward to the opportunity to finalize the transaction.”

Bowers & Wilkins’ responded with a slight change of emphasis, saying that discussions are under way “to explore opportunities for the two businesses to combine”.
ChannelNews understands that Bowers & Wilkins is also talking to two other potential investors including a current sound Company and a venture capital Company.

Geoff Edwards, CEO of Bowers & Wilkins said “If our discussions are successful, combining Bowers & Wilkins’ engineering and manufacturing expertise in the premium category with the breadth of resources and capability of Sound United could certainly be a transformative step for both brands. It would allow the Bowers & Wilkins team even greater opportunities to focus on what we do best – building the industry’s finest loudspeakers.”

According to the statement, Sound United would acquire all worldwide third-party distribution and licensing agreements under which Bowers & Wilkins premium audio products are currently sold. This does not affect any of the existing Bowers & Wilkins product portfolio or any of the products Bowers & Wilkins currently distributes or current global operations.

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