Chessington, UK (December 16, 2019)—Paris-based private investment group Ardian has agreed to purchase a majority share of Audiotonix, parent company to the Solid State Logic, Calrec, DiGiCo and Allen & Heath console brands as well as immersive IEM tech developer KLANG Technologies and audio manufacturer DiGiGrid.
Expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, the deal, according to Financial Times, is said to place a $1bn-plus enterprise value on Audiotonix. While financial details of the arrangement were not released, the majority stake is being purchased from Paris-based private investment group Astorg, which itself purchased Audiotonix—then consisting of DiGiCo, Calrec and Allen & Heath—in February, 2017 for approximately $254 million. Since then, Audiotonix acquired Solid State Logic in December, 2017, and DiGiCo acquired KLANG in December, 2018.
Astorg will keep a minority stake in Audiotonix, but had been planning to sell the company at auction in early 2020, according to the Financial Times’ sources. Reportedly a half-dozen private equity funds were interested before Ardian stepped in to purchase the majority stake. Audiotonix management, as well as Astorg, will re-invest as part of the transaction. Audiotonix employs roughly 550 people and distributes its products via a global network of more than 200 distributors and partners in more than 90 countries.
The Audiotonix purchase isn’t Ardian’s first foray into pro-audio waters. Among the roughly 150 companies Ardian is currently invested in is loudspeaker system manufacturer d&b audiotechnik, which it acquired in February, 2016 from investment companies Odewald & Compagnie and COBEPA, which in turn first acquired d&b in 2011.
“This is an outstanding opportunity to partner with Ardian to enable further growth, and it represents a significant step in the future development of Audiotonix,” said James Gordon, Audiotonix CEO. “We have built an incredible infrastructure within the group in the past five years, which has clearly benefited all our brands with manufacturing know-how, developing new technologies, and growing their worldwide reach. Ardian’s financial support and advice, combined with Astorg’s, who are also remaining as an investor for this next phase, will help expand our brands and product portfolio even further.”
For Ardian’s part, Bruno Ladrière, managing director of Ardian Buyout, reaffirmed the group’s confidence in Audiotonix’s direction, noting, “The highly experienced management team is well placed to grow the scope and reach of the business, delivering outstanding audio experiences to more and more people worldwide.”
As a private investment firm, Ardian has assets of US $90bn globally, manages funds for roughly 800 clients, and is majority-owned by its 550-plus employees in 15 offices across Europe (Frankfurt, Jersey, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, Paris and Zurich), the Americas (New York, San Francisco and Santiago) and Asia (Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul).
The acquisition comes in the wake of another recent change at Audiotonix; in late November, the company appointed Simon Downing as its new group Chairman. The founder of software services company Civica in 2001, Downing guided that business through a 2004 IPO and three private equity buyouts, the last in 2017 for more than $1Bn. On becoming Audiotonix’s new chairman, Downing noted in November, “It’s an exciting time to be part of the Audiotonix team. Their passion for the business combined with best-in-class engineering sits well with my own business success. There is much to learn here, but helping develop future software and hardware technologies for mission critical environments and using these solutions to further build our brands globally, will certainly play to my strengths.”
Gordon lauded Downing’s arrival, noting, “It has taken us a long time to find a Chairman with the level of experience in a technology business as well as private equity expertise. In Simon, we have both, as well as a style that fits with the Audiotonix team perfectly.”
It’s been a busy fall in general for Audiotonix, as its SSL brand released its new Origin analog-based studio console and named Phil Wagner as its new senior vice president, US; Allen & Heath introduced its new Avantis live sound desk; and DiGiCo unveiled its SD7 Quantum’s Spice Rack and Mustard.