Is this Sennheiser commercially effective

ROUNDUP: Sennheiser's core headphone business goes to Swiss company Sonova

WEDEMARK / STÄFA (dpa-AFX) - The audio technology manufacturer Sennheiser is handing over its consumer goods division with headphones and speaker systems for home use to the Swiss hearing aid manufacturer Sonova. A purchase price of 200 million euros has now been agreed, both companies reported on Friday. If the competition authorities agree, the step should be implemented in the second half of the year.

Sonova - specializing in medical hearing aids - takes over the complete range of cable and wireless headphones as well as in-ear headphones for everyday use, accessories and surround sound "soundbars" for TV and HiFi from Sennheiser. The Lower Saxony will keep the business with professional studio and DJ headphones including larger headsets, with microphones, with radio transmitters and radio links as well as with conference systems and other event technology.

Sennheiser had been looking for investors for its "Consumer Electronics" division for some time. At the headquarters in Wedemark near Hanover, the capacities are to remain in principle, especially in research and development. "We want to keep the team and the location because that's where the expertise is," said Sonova boss Arnd Kaldowski of the German press agency. "It wouldn't make sense to say: I want all of this in Switzerland."

The aim is to "keep the team together". The Sennheiser management stated that they are now discussing details with the works council on the delimitation of the future units. But anyone who wants to move to Switzerland should have "very good prospects", according to a statement.

Nothing will change for customers, said Kaldowski: "The devices will be sold under the same brand." There will be a license agreement between Sennheiser and Sonova - based near Zurich. Although the products are different, "this works well here," says Kaldowski. "We will learn from each other. We see the emergence of a new market in the middle."

The idea: In the future, Sennheiser headphones will form the "focus on consumer goods" on the one hand, and hearing aids from Sonova will form the "focus on medical products" - with a segment of small, mobile, wireless audio amplifiers planned in between. The Swiss want to contribute technology from their hearing aids and implants area.

Kaldowski explained that the battery charge of the miniature headphones worn in the ear could be improved in this way. At the same time, their performance can be optimized in such a way that the wearers understand their conversation partner more clearly. The partial takeover of Sennheiser should, according to both companies, "increase the range" by addressing "potential users of hearing aids" earlier.

When asked whether this would not be a way of creating customers with hearing impairments later on, Co-boss Andreas Sennheiser said that the company's own models also deliver precise, quiet sounds: "Every detail must be able to be heard even at lower volumes." Kaldowski said people with hearing loss often have to wait longer for a hearing aid. "We see this as expanding the market, bringing them in earlier."

The department for classic headphones and earphones at Sennheiser recently achieved annual sales of a good 250 million euros with around 600 employees. The family company, founded in 1945, is represented in more than 50 countries.

Last July, Sennheiser announced that it would cut 650 of its 2,800 jobs. The reasons are the mixed year 2019 and the consequences of the pandemic for the event and music industry. The second co-boss Daniel Sennheiser spoke on Friday of a decline in the "consumer" business in 2020 by a little less than 10 percent - the demand for wireless audio technology, however, continues to grow strongly. For 2019, the company had reported a loss of 3.1 million euros, more precise figures for 2020 should be available in the summer.

When it comes to headphones for smartphones and tablets, Sennheiser competes with many other well-known brands such as Beats, Sony , Bose and JBL. The market for systems with active suppression of ambient noise has grown significantly in recent years. Interfaces to voice functions and assistants are also becoming more important for many customers.