Bowers & Wilkins set to be acquired by Sound United

Bowers & Wilkins set to be acquired by Sound United
(Image credit: Future)

Big hi-fi news: Sound United has announced it has entered into a preliminary agreement to acquire Bowers & Wilkins, with the British speaker brand stating that negotiations with Sound United have begun "to explore a possible combined future".

In a brief statement, Sound United - a portfolio company of a US-based private equity firm who already owns Boston Acoustics, Classé, Definitive Technology, Denon, HEOS, Marantz and Polk Audio - announced its intention to acquire arguably the biggest name in British hi-fi. Sound United "today announced it entered into a preliminary letter of intent to acquire Bowers & Wilkins," it read. Kevin Duffy, CEO at Sound United, commented: "B&W is a transformative brand and we look forward to the opportunity to finalize the transaction."

Bowers & Wilkins' responded with a slight change of emphasis, saying that discussions are under way "to explore opportunities for the two businesses to combine".

Geoff Edwards, CEO of Bowers & Wilkins, said in a statement: “Discussions between Bowers & Wilkins and Sound United are at an early stage with a view to consolidating our premium brands into a new group offering even better consumer opportunities. 

"If our discussions are successful, combining Bowers & Wilkins’ engineering and manufacturing expertise in the premium category with the breadth of resources and capability of Sound United could certainly be a transformative step for both brands. It would allow the Bowers & Wilkins team even greater opportunities to focus on what we do best – building the industry’s finest loudspeakers.”

According to the statement, Sound United would acquire all worldwide third-party distribution and licensing agreements under which Bowers & Wilkins premium audio products are currently sold. This does not affect any of the existing Bowers & Wilkins product portfolio or any of the products Bowers & Wilkins currently distributes or current global operations.

Earlier this year, B&W confirmed a restructuring following the departure of their CEO and the souring of the relationship with Eva Automation, a Silicon Valley start-up that had acquired the brand back in 2016. Eva Automation had driven the launch of B&W Formation, the company's first multi-room wireless system, with rumours subsequently swirling around the success or otherwise of the likes of the B&W Formation Duo.

One thing both parties agree on: discussions are ongoing. More details as and when we get them.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her eight years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.

  • manicm
    It just makes sense to me. Currently you need an arm and leg to buy a Formation product, and then another arm and leg to buy Roon to make it usable.

    With the new parent they should quickly launch 2nd gen models which work with Heos. To me this is only a good move.
  • Friesiansam
    The other companies acquired by Sound United seem to be doing well under their umbrella, this move could be just what B & W needs.
  • Booker
    I hope they keep up a focus on wired headphones too - most of the press content seems to be about their speakers, and recently all their new products have been wireless. I love the P7s, and have the P9s on the way too.