Siemens has narrowed down the list of potential acquirers in its auction of the Siemens Hearing Instruments business to five private equity firms plus one strategic acquirer. Siemens is among the top five hearing aid companies worldwide but, according to news reports, its shrinking sales and profit margins lagged industry leaders Sonova and William Demant in 2009. News reports put the value of the unit at more than 2 billion euros ($2.88 billion US). The winning bidder is expected to be picked by the end of February. I can’t wait to see whether the newly independent entity will inject a shot of investment and growth into a hearing-aid industry that’s badly in need of new competitive energy.