September 26, 2016 / 4:35 PM / 3 years ago

GN hearing aid unit's chief not looking to acquire retail chains

COPENHAGEN, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Hearing-aids and headsets maker GN Store Nord will focus on close partnerships with retail businesses instead of acquisitions, the hearing aid division’s CEO Anders Hedegaard told Reuters on Monday.

* Rivals in the industry have over the past year acquired retail chains in order to ensure the sales of their own hearing aid products and fight pricing pressures from discount chains such as Costco.

* “We have stayed away from acquisitions of retail-businesses and actually performed better than our competitors and done well by focusing on what we are good at,” he told Reuters after the company had laid out a new three year-strategy on Sunday.

* “We provide an alternative - we can cooperate with the independent retailers and help them improve their businesses,” Hedegaard said.

* The GN group finished its acquisition of U.S.-based hearing aid services provider Audigy in July, opening up sales channels to around 250 network members while letting Audigy operate as a separate subsidiary.

* Hedegaard would not rule out acquiring other purchasing groups similar to Audigy, but said it was not on top of his “wish-list” compared to other potential acquisitions. He declined to elaborate further.

* The division is expected to launch the fifth generation of its 2.4 gigahertz wireless hearing aid in 2017, the company said on its capital markets day on Monday.

* Along with the new strategy the company also announced the divestment of its hearing-aid division GN Otometrics.

* The company said it expects its two divisions, GN Hearing and GN Audio, to deliver mid- to high- single-digit organic growth.

* GN Store Nord shares closed 0.9 percent lower on Monday at 149.40 Danish crowns, having touched 151.90 crowns last week, its highest level since April last year. (Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Greg Mahlich)

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