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European speaker manufacturer purchased by Chinese company

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  • European speaker manufacturer purchased by Chinese company

    As any regular reader of HUG knows, Harbeth is a wholly British-owned company.

    It seems that this is becoming increasingly rare. I saw information online saying that Dynaudio was just purchased by a Chinese corporation.

    See: http://www.goertek.com/en/newsdetail...37&file_id=240

  • #2
    All change

    A year or so ago,ago, Naim was purchased by Focal, a French speaker brand.

    This company has subsequently been sold to a 'hedge fund' company but not sure where they are based.

    Comment


    • #3
      Another foreign takeover

      Originally posted by EricW View Post
      As any regular reader of HUG knows, Harbeth is a wholly British-owned company.
      It seems that this is becoming increasingly rare. I saw information online saying that Dynaudio was just purchased by a Chinese corporation.
      See: http://www.goertek.com/en/newsdetail...37&file_id=240
      Similarly world renowned Scan Speak was acqiured by Eastern Asia Technology (HK) Limited - details http://www.scan-speak.dk/news/20140402b.htm.

      Comment


      • #4
        Last man out?

        add to that SEAS, acquired recently by a Taiwanese/Canadian company.

        I am aware, that is, I have been told to my face, that overseas corporations are well aware of the ages of the directors of UK audio companies (public information), the shareholding structure of those companies, the fact that many/most are negligibly profitable, technically marginally solvent 'lifestyle' businesses run for the short term benefit of their owners and are simply biding their time to pounce.

        I am very much aware that time marches on, and whilst I am seriously committed to looking after my health with plenty of good food and intense gym exercise (spin bike class twice a week, boxing class once, pilates class once) I am not invincible. My grown up children are not interested in audio, and one does have a sense of the vultures in the wings. One issue is that Harbeth is so uniquely successful that any of the philanthropic gestures that I might wish to consider to keep it independent, such as a floating it amongst enthusiastic customers are not financially necessary, and would be deemed a tax evasion tactic by the UK govt. we have been told.

        As I am reminded by our Auditors, the design element of my job is the most important, and that's the one I'm doing my best to preserve into old age! Ah well, the Powers of Attorney I have in place would allow business to continue, and perhaps be even better managed!

        The question for me is why would a business want to sell out? The obvious one is that of ill health of the owner, or the owner is worn out and needs to retire and there is no internal succession plan. Or, the right amount of cash has been dangled in front of the owner, or the bank have tightened their grip and cash flow management has become an all consuming activity. I've never actually been interested in money; as a good Scot, I am genetically biased towards self-frugality so the cash lump sum doesn't interest me, and as we don't have any bank involvement in our business, we are our own masters. Not so lucky many of our competitors.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #5
          !!!

          Alan,

          You are wiser than you make yourself out to be.

          Comment


          • #6
            Brand's status.

            Originally posted by A.S. View Post
            add to that SEAS, acquired recently by a Taiwanese/Canadian company.

            I am aware, that is, I have been told to my face, that overseas corporations are well aware of the ages of the directors of UK audio companies (public information), the shareholding structure of those companies, the fact that many/most are negligibly profitable, technically marginally solvent 'lifestyle' businesses run for the short term benefit of their owners and are simply biding their time to pounce.

            I am very much aware that time marches on, and whilst I am seriously committed to looking after my health with plenty of good food and intense gym exercise (spin bike class twice a week, boxing class once, pilates class once) I am not invincible. My grown up children are not interested in audio, and one does have a sense of the vultures in the wings. One issue is that Harbeth is so uniquely successful that any of the philanthropic gestures that I might wish to consider to keep it independent, such as a floating it amongst enthusiastic customers are not financially necessary, and would be deemed a tax evasion tactic by the UK govt. we have been told.

            As I am reminded by our Auditors, the design element of my job is the most important, and that's the one I'm doing my best to preserve into old age! Ah well, the Powers of Attorney I have in place would allow business to continue, and perhaps be even better managed!

            The question for me is why would a business want to sell out? The obvious one is that of ill health of the owner, or the owner is worn out and needs to retire and there is no internal succession plan. Or, the right amount of cash has been dangled in front of the owner, or the bank have tightened their grip and cash flow management has become an all consuming activity. I've never actually been interested in money; as a good Scot, I am genetically biased towards self-frugality so the cash lump sum doesn't interest me, and as we don't have any bank involvement in our business, we are our own masters. Not so lucky many of our competitors.
            Great news, that means have a pair of my SHL5s been faulty for any reason (e.g. due to ageing) in far future, my children will still have the option to obtain professional service.... I know only one local company, which is still servicing their electronic products since 70's and it is seen as THE CULT BRAND here....

            P.S. I still remember first emotions when as a youngster I was given blue pants as a gift, those with magical text "This is a pair of L .....'s. They are the original jeans".

            Comment


            • #7
              A cultural shift

              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
              I am very much aware that time marches on...My grown up children are not interested in audio, and one does have a sense of the vultures in the wings
              Just the thought of there not being another "Shaw" to take over the reigns of Harbeth makes me type this with an almost heavy heart. I am aware that businesses can find successors to take over when the master has stepped down, but the very thought of there not being one named Shaw...

              This reminds me Alan of a documentary on the NHK World Japanese channel (Japan's equivalent to the BBC) that I watched with my Japanese wife recently which exposed the concerns and worries of many a great Japanese artisan and incredible craftsmanship based family businesses, some being as old as as 300 years. Some of these businesses ranged from making traditional kimono, ceramics and tools. The common scenario in almost all of these businesses were that the latest generations of children in those family businesses were not interested in taking over the reigns and were attracted to the corporate world, lights and lifestyle of Tokyo or some of other big cities in Japan.

              You could almost sense the happiness that the fathers / mothers had, seeing the children pursuing something they wanted to do, but on the other hand the sadness and uncertainty of what would happen to their business in the future

              Comment


              • #8
                Sweet memories ...

                I'm not a scientist or an always science oriented person, so I sometimes give a "very subjective" reason concerning the success of a product or of a project. It's been a few days since we heard some really old stuff playing music here... Leak stereo amp and an idler-wheeled Garrrard, through Rogers speakers. All from the 70's.

                Moments after, we stopped looking at the hifi components and let ourselves drown into the sentimental ocean of Mason Williams "Classical Gas", from the 60's "Phonograph Record"... Never before so sweet... I don't know if hundreds/thousands of workers with heads, but with no faces, working very hard for a hifi giant and for a couple of dollars a day, will make things like these old "magic" hand made beauties I mention above... Perhaps I don't know why, even cannot explain it with scientific evidence, yet I insist... So, against all modern theories and practices about profit making through "top-notch industrialization", I still believe AND FEEL that Mom's little sandwich I got from home to eat to school, is, was and will forever be way more tasty, healthy and beloved than any ready-made "gourmet" or "snack" out there... Maybe Alan, maybe many of you, feel the same and agree...

                Cheers from Athens and from some really old-cut chaps...!

                Thanos

                Comment


                • #9
                  Old fashioned craftsmanship

                  Yes tmokbel Tarik!

                  Same here with my Japanese wife and our propensity to watch NHK!... yes the traditional Japanese artisans.

                  It is very warm when we find Harbeth cabinet artisans etc headed by A.S. maintaining the same artisanship ignoring the overcommercialisation of the modern corporates!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The annihilation of individualism

                    Concerned with 'political trends', and by that I mean the shifts in societal outlook and power structures, I have been discussing similar changes in society with friends about certain other areas of life.

                    I was a racing cyclist in the mid sixties, and used to buy what was then called "Cycling" magazine, now "Cycling Weekly". I remember well the images of Tommy Simpson and Jacques Anquetil on the front cover, and that they were individual aspirants, relatively self promoted, choosing their own equipment and riding with pride for their country.

                    Contrast this with the 'Tour' of today in which large corporations who choose the bikes from another corporation, and the team colours all will wear, the nutrition pre-determined by a corporate team of scientists, and each rider is instructed to ride to allow whomever the team managers decide will win a stage, to aid him to do so.

                    I then think of X-Factor, and a forerunner team, Stock Aitken and Waterman, now PWL, and what this approach is doing to pop music.

                    Contrast the self made original thinking and emotively written song of 40 years ago, in which stunning revelations were often expressed, and with a real original emotive sincerity, with the contrived and team controlled approach of the corporate efforts. (' Just lift your left eyebrow a little more, and Carol can you put more lipstick on he lower lip,;? Now - "Take 27 - Action" '.

                    This to me is representative of the annihilation of the individual, and his autonomous aspirational efforts, a rather sad age we seem to be moving into.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Creeping globalisation

                      Originally posted by Pharos View Post
                      Concerned with 'political trends', and by that I mean the shifts in societal outlook and power structures, I have been discussing similar changes in society with friends about certain other areas of life ...

                      This to me is representative of the annihilation of the individual, and his autonomous aspirational efforts, a rather sad age we seem to be moving into.
                      The irony is, of course, that young people are indignant that their lives are just one big freedom, when in fact, they are ruthlessly manipulated into being 'consumer units' from the moment they throw back the bedsheets.

                      Not only is there overt globalisation of the type reported here, but there is, for want of a better word, covert globalisation. That is, the long established brand remains to the outside world unchanged, but in reality the money, power and influence (and remission of profits) is to overseas owners. We are beginning to see that in the audio industry whereby brands as "British" as the BBC itself are 90+% owned by overseas investors.

                      Nothing wrong with that of course in a free world. The audio industry buys (has to buy, actually) materials from around the globe to make our "British" products, but should the British Heritage be promoted quite so vigorously when the brand's true owners, as disclosed by the public record, are individuals or corporations far removed from that very Britishness? I can't decide. Does it matter? Probably not.
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Self achievement?

                        I think it was reported recently that on release of the new Apple Iphone, that the young were queuing outside branches for a couple of days in order to get one, and not because of the new features, but because they wanted to be seen as 'ahead' or 'leading the pack' by their peers, it being identifiable by its new colour.

                        To have used psychology and the old 'enemy' public relations, to achieve a leading role, in which the populous is competitively vying to be seen pioneeringly as first to buy a new product, and hence as 'in the know' or part of the 'incrowd', reflects insidious manipulation on the part of the marketers.

                        There was an old expression; "Possession is nine tenths of the law".
                        My variant on this is; "Self possession is nine tenths of achievement".

                        I am self possessed enough to beware of being manipulated into buying on the basis of created 'wants', rather than my own self defined needs..

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Leading the pack...

                          Originally posted by Pharos View Post
                          I think it was reported recently that on release of the new Apple Iphone, that the young were queuing outside branches for a couple of days in order to get one, and not because of the new features, but because they wanted to be seen as 'ahead' or 'leading the pack' by their peers, it being identifiable by its new colour.

                          To have used psychology and the old 'enemy' public relations, to achieve a leading role, in which the populous is competitively vying to be seen pioneeringly as first to buy a new product, and hence as 'in the know' or part of the 'incrowd', reflects insidious manipulation on the part of the marketers.

                          There was an old expression; "Possession is nine tenths of the law".
                          My variant on this is; "Self possession is nine tenths of achievement".

                          I am self possessed enough to beware of being manipulated into buying on the basis of created 'wants', rather than my own self defined needs..
                          Ho Ho, seems I have recently got the leader of the pack. My new humble 4"-something quad-core windo-telephone proved to be faster and better operating than those androidal chopping boards of my nephews regularly replaced each half year. Boys turned pale and green ....
                          New "traditional" Blackberries are on very limited stock now, probably they also switch to touch-sensitive products.

                          I don't know if I paid for mine more than 1/5th price of theirs ... .

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            French take over

                            Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                            A year or so ago,ago, Naim was purchased by Focal, a French speaker brand.

                            This company has subsequently been sold to a 'hedge fund' company but not sure where they are based.
                            Majority share taken by Naxicap, a significant French private equity group, focused on French investments. Not a Chinaman in sight.

                            {Moderator's comment: Nor a Brit?}

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Taiwanese .... whisky?

                              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                              add to that SEAS, acquired recently by a Taiwanese/Canadian company.

                              I am aware, that is, I have been told to my face, that overseas corporations are well aware of the ages of the directors of UK audio companies (public information), the shareholding structure of those companies, the fact that many/most are negligibly profitable, technically marginally solvent 'lifestyle' businesses run for the short term benefit of their owners and are simply biding their time to pounce.

                              I am very much aware that time marches on, and whilst I am seriously committed to looking after my health with plenty of good food and intense gym exercise (spin bike class twice a week, boxing class once, pilates class once) I am not invincible. My grown up children are not interested in audio, and one does have a sense of the vultures in the wings. One issue is that Harbeth is so uniquely successful that any of the philanthropic gestures that I might wish to consider to keep it independent, such as a floating it amongst enthusiastic customers are not financially necessary, and would be deemed a tax evasion tactic by the UK govt. we have been told.

                              As I am reminded by our Auditors, the design element of my job is the most important, and that's the one I'm doing my best to preserve into old age! Ah well, the Powers of Attorney I have in place would allow business to continue, and perhaps be even better managed!

                              The question for me is why would a business want to sell out? The obvious one is that of ill health of the owner, or the owner is worn out and needs to retire and there is no internal succession plan. Or, the right amount of cash has been dangled in front of the owner, or the bank have tightened their grip and cash flow management has become an all consuming activity. I've never actually been interested in money; as a good Scot, I am genetically biased towards self-frugality so the cash lump sum doesn't interest me, and as we don't have any bank involvement in our business, we are our own masters. Not so lucky many of our competitors.
                              People sell out for $$CASH$$. The only other reason I can think of in my business career is health, usually the big "C" as John Diamond called it. You, like any other business person, are allowed to take your goodwill value to your retirement home and not cash in. Accountants will rabbit on about succession planning as they (I am one) cannot see the point of building an asset and not cashing it in at some point.

                              Propietrary businesses are limited by their very nature and the more to being non-proprietary is a big one, often involving taking on debt, expanding, all those horrible things to the AS world. The French Ververt Group (Naim/Focal) merged and then sold out, but their turnover is 63million with substantial brand value, and 72% export sales, so it was already mature in that regard and probably very profitable. Audio dealers I speak to call Naim their cash cow that sells itself.

                              On the subject of France, I was in Paris earlier this week and found myself in an fabulous whisky lounge after a very good meal. The owner offered me a taste of his finest whisky, 18,000 a bottle apparently. Where was is from? Scotland? Sorry - Taiwan. It's not just audio that's going East. And unlike whisky, as my father-in-law says, money doesn't smell.

                              Comment

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