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post #1 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 05:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Samsung Buying Harman for $8 Billion

Earlier this year Samsung invited me to California to see its impressive new audio research facilities. During that visit, the company indicated its desire to be regarded as the top audio brand in the world. Now, with the announcement that they will purchase Harman—which is the world's largest audio company—that goal may be achieved sooner than I had imagined. Harman is the parent company of many well-known audio brands including JBL, AKG, Crown, Infinity, Mark Levinson, Lexicon, and Revel.


Samsung's $8 billion purchase of Harman will be the company's largest-ever acquisition.


The $8 billion, all-cash deal will be the largest acquisition in Samsung's history. Typically, the company develops its technologies internally, but it also has $71 billion in cash to spend. The Wall Street Journal duly notes that the primary motivation for the acquisition was Harman's penetration into the automotive market. And yet, what Samsung is buying is the whole shebang, not just parts of the company.


Revel speakers is one of the brands Harman picks up with this acquisition.



JBL is perhaps the most recognizable of all the Harman brands Samsung will own.


Regarding Samsung's interest in Harman's automotive-related tech, Young Sohn, the president and chief strategy officer of Samsung Electronics said "The vehicle of tomorrow will be transformed by smart technology and connectivity in the same way that simple feature phones have become sophisticated smart devices over the past decade." Even so, the company plans to retain Harman's current staff and mix of brands, stating that "Samsung is pursuing a long-term growth strategy in automotive electronics, and plans to retain Harman’s work force, headquarters and facilities, as well as all of its consumer and professional audio brands."

On the business side of things, automotive-related sales currently account for 65% of Harman's revenue. The purchase appears to simultaneously be a bargain for Samsung and a boon for Harman. Samsung is offering to pay $112 per share for Harman stock, which represents a nearly 30% markup over its current price. However, Harman shares had been selling for almost $150 last year, but had dropped due to weakness in the Pro audio segment, where its JBL and Crown brands have a huge presence. The company says it will work to bolster that aspect of its business.

Samsung plans to keep Harman intact, with current CEO and President Dinesh Paliwal in charge of the operation. But, it also sees plenty of opportunity going forward when it comes to the portfolio of audio brands it will pick up. The company notes that "Harman’s leading brands and cutting-edge audio systems include JBL, Harman Kardon, Mark Levinson, AKG, Lexicon, Infinity, and Revel. The company also licenses Bowers & Wilkins and Bang & Olufsen brands for automotive. All of these brands will greatly enhance the competitiveness of Samsung’s mobile, display, virtual reality and wearable products to deliver a fully differentiated audio and visual experience for customers."

The fact that Samsung will own JBL and various other major audio brands is just now sinking in. This acquisition covers the entire gamut from inexpensive consumer goods to the largest professional AV installations, and covers car audio as well as high-end audio. The deal does require the approval of Harman shareholders, but it has already been "unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies," says the press release. The deal should close sometime in mid-2017 after "regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions" are complete.

Here's a link to the full press release: https://news.samsung.com/global/sams...d-technologies

* Please note that I posted this in the "Speakers" forum because so much of what Harman does has to do with speakers thanks to JBL and Infinity and Revel. But, the reality is that this deal encompasses much more than speakers, and the comments/discussion may reflect that.
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post #2 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 06:59 AM
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Not sure what to think of this just yet. Of what I have seen/heard the very best of Samsung audio is average and they now have control of some very prestigious and respected names in the audio market. They also purchased the entire company primarily for the auto division so one wonders what kind of priority they will give the consumer audio business (or professional audio business for that matter) or whether they may considering spinning it off into a separate company or simply selling it.

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post #3 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 07:16 AM
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While Samsung will now own whole Harmon company are they still going to keep same brand names such as JBL, Revel, etc and keep their employees? I can't imagine buying speakers, amps, or high end products with Samsung name other than TVs and phones. Maybe its just me?
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post #4 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ereed View Post
While Samsung will now own whole Harmon company are they still going to keep same brand names such as JBL, Revel, etc and keep their employees? I can't imagine buying speakers, amps, or high end products with Samsung name other than TVs and phones. Maybe its just me?
The brands will remain.
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post #5 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 07:31 AM
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The brands will remain.
That is nice to hear! What about Harmon Kardon brand itself such as their AVRs?

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post #6 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 08:36 AM
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The brands will remain.

I don't necessarily disagree but I am curious, how can you make such an absolute statement?While the brands certainly have value Samsung didn't purchase Harman for those brands but simply to gain market enry/share in the connected auto market. It's entirely possible that Samsung itself places no value in those brands and chooses to spin them off in an independent company or sells them either in whole or piecemeal. It's possible though far less likely they may choose to simply shut them down or sell the license to the name.

Samsung is big enough that the revenue generated by those companies is insignificant. If you know more or know of an online resource that sheds more light on this please share.
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post #7 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 08:43 AM - Thread Starter
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I don't necessarily disagree but I am curious, how can you make such an absolute statement? While the brands certainly have value Samsung didn't purchase Harman for those brands but simply to gain market enry/share in the connected auto market. It's entirely possible that Samsung itself places no value in those brands and chooses to spin them off in an independent company or sells them either in whole or piecemeal. It's possible though far less likely they may choose to simply shut them down or sell the license to the name.

Samsung is big enough that the revenue generated by those companies is insignificant. If you know more or know of an online resource that sheds more light on this please share.
I cannot, and it was not meant as an absolute statement. Rather, it is just a reflection of the information that is currently available. Of course things could change.
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post #8 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 08:49 AM
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Wow, so many things coming out the fly of lately! This is definitely for me incomprehensible! So many brands under Harmon Kardon brand, I really hope they keep these brands intact.




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post #9 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 09:01 AM
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I cannot, and it was not meant as an absolute statement. Rather, it is just a reflection of the information that is currently available. Of course things could change.
Yeah, that's kind of what I figured but wanted to be sure. You are obviously more connected and experienced in this field than I, what are your personal thoughts (if any) on whether the brands outside of the auto market will be better off, worse off or unaffected by the Samsung buyout. Any gut feeling on what their ultimate fate may be (sold, spun off, outsourced, transforming to a licensed name?)

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post #10 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 09:06 AM
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thanks for posting.. definitely a global market these days. Vizio was recently purchased by a Chinese company

Harman has nice portfolio of Home audio products. Will be interesting to see what becomes of this segment once this deal closes and Samsung team decides how to manage moving forward. We all have learned since the 1980's, many-many things are stated at deal time, but once deals are official and close all bets are off.. especially 1 year down the road and they have more time to assess and freely discuss internally and how best to manage acquired assets
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Originally Posted by ereed View Post
While Samsung will now own whole Harmon company are they still going to keep same brand names such as JBL, Revel, etc and keep their employees? I can't imagine buying speakers, amps, or high end products with Samsung name other than TVs and phones. Maybe its just me?
This was my exact first thought, being a big JBL fan. Well, on the development side. After learning about and acquiring Studio 5 speakers and knowing of long time engineers leaving the company, it makes me wonder what path the brand would take from a design\quality perspective.

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post #12 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 09:07 AM
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One of the news stories I heard this morning made mention of part the importance of this deal was so that Samsung has access to Harman engineers. I'd like to think they'd keep the brands intact, but only time will tell.
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post #13 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 09:15 AM
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The actual acquisition is probably still a year out. Samsung is banking on connected cars being the future, so mostly it was a bid for the automotive division of Harman.

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post #14 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
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The actual acquisition is probably still a year out. Samsung is banking on connected cars being the future, so mostly it was a bid for the automotive division of Harman.
True, but it gets everything. And, the company has stated a desire to be viewed as number one in audio, which this move goes a long way toward achieving.

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post #15 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 09:23 AM
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I'm in the auto biz, here in Farmington Hills MI, 12 mile area.
The HK auto headquaters just opened up 13 mile and M5, I have lots of personal friends who work there.

http://news.harman.com/releases/harm...-metro-detroit
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January 25, 2016 HARMAN Unveils New North American Automotive Headquarters in Metro Detroit
Facility Fuels HARMAN’s Automotive Industry Leadership Delivering Innovative Audio and Connected Car Solutions to Consumers

HARMAN’s new North American Automotive Headquarters includes the following equipment and facilities:
  • Engineering labs for advanced Connected Car technologies and platforms, including driver assistance, next-generation navigation and security solutions;
  • Development areas focused on future connectivity solutions, including telematics, over-the-air update services and vehicle-to-infrastructure / vehicle-to-vehicle communications;
  • Infotainment design studios for HARMAN and customer co-developed advanced software applications;
  • State-of-the-art audio listening room;
  • A full cinema quality 5.1 surround sound theater showcasing HARMAN's expertise in professional audio, as well as home and multimedia;
  • An anechoic chamber for the accurate designing and testing of transducers (speakers);
  • Vehicle bays for integration testing;
  • A full-scale pilot factory;
  • Employee amenities including a fitness center, locker rooms, cafeteria, collaboration spaces and an outdoor deck and patio space.
Nobody knows the mid-long term future brand re-grouping, for sure in near term 1-ish year nothing.
But surely some brands may get absorbed, or re-positioned, etc.

There's more I can say but won't, "loose lips sink ships".
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post #16 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 09:25 AM
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...the company has stated a desire to be viewed as number one in audio...
To that end, Samsung was able to pry Allan Devantier (Floyd Toole's protégé) and some of his team away from Harman to start up a new audio division at Samsung Research America. Ironic that 3 years later ALL of Harman is going to follow.

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post #17 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 09:48 AM
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To that end, Samsung was able to pry Allan Devantier (Floyd Toole's protégé) and some of his team away from Harman to start up a new audio division at Samsung Research America. Ironic that 3 years later ALL of Harman is going to follow.
What's more interesting to me is that after 3 years Samsung audio is still, at best, exceedingly average.

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post #18 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 09:52 AM - Thread Starter
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What's more interesting to me is that after 3 years Samsung audio is still, at best, exceedingly average.
That effort did not yield instant results, but I had a chance to measure the output of a JS9500 versus a KS9800 and there's a significant improvement there, which is attributed to the audio lab. Also, the K950 Atmos soundbar was developed there and it is—for a soundbar—very good. But it's true, thus far Samsung has nothing for real audio enthusiasts. But soon it will. Can't wait to chat 'em up at CES.

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That effort did not yield instant results, but I had a chance to measure the output of a JS9500 versus a KS9800 and there's a significant improvement there, which is attributed to the audio lab. ALso, the K950 Atmos soundbar was developed there and it is—for a soundbar—very good. But it's true, thus far Samsung has nothing for real audio enthusiasts. But soon it will. Can't wait to chat 'em up at CES.
I certainly hope you are right. They will have ownership of some very respected and historic audio brands (including at least one I personally feel was taken in the wrong direction by Harman.) I hope they treat them with the proper respect.

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post #20 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 10:41 AM
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I've never been a big fan of Samsung and have found them to be mediocre. Here's to hoping they spin the companies off and keep just the car audio business only. This way the business can thrive on their own (hopefully).
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post #21 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 11:04 AM
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They wanted the car and potential migration biz.

I'm JBL pro will stay since they are dominate player in thier market.

Now as far hi fi and high end consumer lines (SYNTHESIS, Mark Levinson, REVEL) they better be making money and showing a good turn on capitol investment.

For now all should be safe but after the Samsung audiophile execs have gotten accomodation deals hen who knows.

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One of the news stories I heard this morning made mention of part the importance of this deal was so that Samsung has access to Harman engineers. I'd like to think they'd keep the brands intact, but only time will tell.
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Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post
I'm in the auto biz, here in Farmington Hills MI, 12 mile area.
The HK auto headquaters just opened up 13 mile and M5, I have lots of personal friends who work there.

http://news.harman.com/releases/harm...-metro-detroit


Nobody knows the mid-long term future brand re-grouping, for sure in near term 1-ish year nothing.
But surely some brands may get absorbed, or re-positioned, etc.

There's more I can say but won't, "loose lips sink ships".
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I've never been a big fan of Samsung and have found them to be mediocre. Here's to hoping they spin the companies off and keep just the car audio business only. This way the business can thrive on their own (hopefully).
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They wanted the car and potential migration biz.

I'm JBL pro will stay since they are dominate player in thier market.

Now as far hi fi and high end consumer lines (SYNTHESIS, Mark Levinson, REVEL) they better be making money and showing a good turn on capitol investment.

For now all should be safe but after the Samsung audiophile execs have gotten accomodation deals hen who knows.
Samsung says it "is pursuing a long-term growth strategy in automotive electronics, and plans to retain Harman’s work force, headquarters and facilities, as well as all of its consumer and professional audio brands."

You can bet that those brands are going to be leveraged in the automotive market that Samsung is targeting. Mark Levinson is probably known by a lot more people as the brand of car stereo in their Lexus than it is known for high-end audio gear that costs as much as a Lexus.

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post #23 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 11:24 AM
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My first reaction is "Oh no!" A big bureaucratic conglomerate whose electronics division makes throwaway commodity items taking over an innovative industry leader and focusing on its car products. Doesn't sound good for Harman's home audio products. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
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post #24 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 11:43 AM
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Great now my speakers will blow up just like my recalled phone and recalled washing machine (that's not a lie either).
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post #25 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 11:55 AM
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I personally try to stay away from anything Samsung has a part in if I can help it.

I have been burnt by that company a bunch of times from laptops to cell phones and computer parts, their customer service is terrible and i got the sense that they don't care about the customer once they get your money .

I dont frequent any of the brands that they are acquiring at the moment but now I know to strike all those companies from any future shortlists.

I am not naive in the sense that I know samsung parts are in a lot of the products I already own but at least i don't have to call them if and when something goes wrong.

Rant over Just my 2cents.
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...now my speakers will blow up...
The ultimate immersive experience.

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post #27 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 12:12 PM
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I personally try to stay away from anything Samsung has a part in if I can help it.

I have been burnt by that company a bunch of times from laptops to cell phones and computer parts, their customer service is terrible and i got the sense that they don't care about the customer once they get your money .

I dont frequent any of the brands that they are acquiring at the moment but now I know to strike all those companies from any future shortlists.

I am not naive in the sense that I know samsung parts are in a lot of the products I already own but at least i don't have to call them if and when something goes wrong.

Rant over Just my 2cents.
I can understand this completely. While my experience with Samsung is more limited it's not positive. Their cellphones have not been an issue for me (other than the abysmal touchwiz interface) but everything else I've owned has been. I've had 2 hard drives, 3 optical drives and 2 blu-ray players - all failed very prematurely and all were extremely well cared for. Never again...

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post #28 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 12:19 PM
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Samsung spends a fortune on advertising Samsung products. I doubt they'll keep the old brand names. They'll probably co-brand them for a while. I.e. "Samsung-Infinity" and eventually everything will just be "Samsung Audio".
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post #29 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post
Samsung spends a fortune on advertising Samsung products. I doubt they'll keep the old brand names. They'll probably co-brand them for a while. I.e. "Samsung-Infinity" and eventually everything will just be "Samsung Audio".
I certainly hope this is not the case. It would mark the last time I ever purchase or recommend a Samsung product (not that I'm delusional enough to think that it would make a difference.)

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post #30 of 114 Old 11-14-2016, 12:34 PM
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I cannot imagine get anything quality from Samsung (in terms of Audio)...

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