Hearing Review’s report on the 4.8 percent increase in 2014 U.S. hearing aid unit sales underscores the roles Costco and the Veterans Administration (VA) have played in driving the growth of the hearing industry. The report shows that Costco, the “big box” retailer, and the government-funded VA accounted for nearly a third of the more than three million units sold in the U.S. last year, with both channels growing three-to-five times faster than sales through independent audiologists. What makes Costco and the VA different from private independent sellers, whose growth rate was less than three percent? Lower prices, for one thing. But the fact that both the VA and Costco are delivering better products than ever before may be even more important. [Read more…]
With the conclusion of its multi-billion-dollar acquisition of Siemens AG’s audiology business Thursday, a private investment group led by EQT Partners announced a new name for the company — Sivantos Group — along with an ambitious agenda to quickly make its presence felt as one of the world’s largest independent hearing aid manufacturers.
Siemens Hearing Instruments for decades had been among the “Big Six” manufacturers that account for more than 80 percent of the world’s hearing aid sales. But it’s been five years since the parent conglomerate announced it wanted to spin off its hearing aid business, and the tortuous, stop-and-go process that finally led to yesterday’s announcement left many industry observers scratching their heads: [Read more…]
IntriCon’s long-term investment in what it calls the “value hearing health market” is paying off in a big way with its recently signed agreement to distribute low-cost, high-performance hearing aid products through PC Werth Ltd in the United Kingdom. PC Werth has been appointed as one of the main suppliers to the National Health Service (NHS), the largest purchaser of hearing aids in the world, which provides an estimated 1.2 million hearing aids annually to people with hearing loss in the UK. IntriCon also announced it appointed Delain Wright, a well-known hearing industry executive, as vice president of business development to lead its foray into the value hearing health market. [Read more…]
With its new Z Series hearing aids, Starkey Hearing Technologies has improved wireless connectivity between its hearing aids and peripheral audio streaming devices. The company said its new 900sync™ technology utilizing the 900 MHz transmission band enables more robust sound and “virtually drop free” streaming into the hearing aids from a normal range of five meters or less. [Read more…]
Some soothsayers are predicting 2015 will be the Year of Wearable Electronics, with one research firm forecasting double-digit global market growth to $8 billion by 2018. But in the cascade of new wearable products — smart wristwatches with built-in sensors, web-connected glasses with tiny online cameras, wrist-bands that monitor your every move, “e-textile” outerwear with sensors built into the fabric, footwear, headbands, and dozens of others — we’ve barely seen or heard about hearing aids. Even though hearing aids were the original “wearable” consumer electronics products, they are hardly mentioned in discussion of the next great wave of consumer technology. What’s wrong with this picture? [Read more…]
ReSound made sure not to leave behind its customers most in need of hearing help when it introduced its new ENZO hearing aid, the first Made-for-iPhone hearing aid for people with severe-to-profound hearing loss. And the sponsors of the Consumer Electronics Show next week have recognized ReSound’s investment in iPhone hearing aids by making the ReSound ENZO a 2015 Innovation Awards Honoree in its Accessible Technologies category.
ReSound led the market in Made-for-iPhone hearing aids when it rolled out its small open-fit LiNX hearing aid for mild and moderate hearing loss early last year. By the time volume shipments were under way, ReSound was ready to roll out the much larger and more powerful ENZO super-power iPhone hearing aid in December 2014. [Read more…]
Happy New Year? It all depends on where you stand in the hearing industry. In 2015, hearing aid manufacturers will continue introducing new products and technologies at an accelerating pace, and legions of new and current customers with hearing loss will win.
But with lower prices and sometimes brutal competition, everyone who serves those customers — from audiologists and dispensers to manufacturers and retailers — will have to stay on their toes to survive, let alone prosper. Following are five trends to follow in the New Year: [Read more…]
Siemens confirmed it is selling its hearing aid business to a group of private equity investors led by EQT Partners in Sweden, backed by the Wallenberg family, and by Germany’s Strungmann family, for €2.15 billion ($2.57 billion USD) plus future earn-out payments based on the company’s performance. The sale is expected to close in the first calendar quarter of 2015.
Siemens had previously announced it would spin off its Audiology Solutions Business into a separate publicly held company but said in today’s news release that “the very attractive offer made by the two investors” led to the private sale instead. “Not only is the transaction excellent from a financial perspective; we’re also convinced that both investors have a clear growth strategy for further developing the hearing aid business over the long term,” said Hermann Requardt, CEO of Siemens Healthcare and member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG. Siemens will remain invested in the hearing aid business with preferred equity of €200 million. In addition, Siemens will have a seat on the board of the buyer group. Under the terms of the agreement, the new owners will also be allowed to continue using the Siemens product brand for the hearing aid business over the medium term.
“The Siemens audiology business has a very strong heritage for innovative, high quality products and we have been particularly impressed with the strong track record over the last couple of years. EQT is fully committed to supporting the management and employees in developing the business further,” said Marcus Brennecke, Partner at EQT Partners.
EQT is a growth-oriented investment company managing around €22 billion in assets and with proven expertise in the healthcare and medical engineering sector. EQT is also the owner of LBX, one of the largest pharmacy chains in China’s growth market. Germany’s Strüngmann family of entrepreneurs is also known for its focus on long-term growth. In 1986, the family founded Hexal, which has since become Germany’s leading provider of generic drugs.
The sale eliminates the uncertainty that has surrounded Siemens Hearing Instruments since the parent company started floating the idea of a spinoff several years ago. Siemens Hearing Instruments is one of the “Big-Six” hearing aid suppliers that control more than 80 percent of the global hearing aid business. In fiscal 2014, Siemens’ globally active audiology business, with over 5,000 employees, generated revenue of €693 million and a reported EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of €145 million.
With €1.1 billion of equity remaining in the business after the sale, the Siemens audiology business should have the capital and independence it needs to invest in new products and maintain its competitive position against the other top hearing aid suppliers.
At the recent 59th International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians (EUHA) in Hanover, Germany, Siemens introduced its new binax hearing aid platform based on binaural technology. The technology enables new hearing aids to share and exchange audio signals in real time to reproduce more natural hearing processes for both ears.