Sparkle Roll Says Shareholder, Not Itself, in Talks to Buy B&Oby
Chinese distributor clarifies statement made Tuesday
B&O struggling amid waning demand for high-end electronics
Sparkle Roll Group Ltd. said a private company owned by its largest shareholder Qi Jianhong is in talks to buy Bang & Olufsen A/S, clarifying a statement Tuesday from the Danish maker of luxury consumer electronics.
Qi’s private company is negotiating the acquisition of B&O, and none of Sparkle Roll’s directors have been involved in talks to buy the company, according to a statement to Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Bang & Olufsen had said it was in talks to be bought by Sparkle Roll, its Chinese distribution partner.
Qi had incorporated a wholly-owned company, also called Sparkle Roll Group Ltd., in the British Virgin Islands and that is the entity negotiating with B&O, according to the Hong Kong-listed company. Qi is also the sole owner of Sparkle Roll Holdings Ltd., currently B&O’s third biggest shareholder with a 5.6 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
New ownership would allow B&O’s management to focus on turning around the company and increase sales, Qi said Tuesday. B&O, which makes $8,000-plus TVs, has struggled to win buyers for its products as prices for flat-screen sets tumble and more people listen to music on smartphones rather than home hi-fi systems.
A sale of B&O would mark the end of an era for a 91-year-old electronics maker known for its simple, clean Nordic designs. As one of the last of the larger makers of hi-fi systems in Europe, the sale would leave behind mainly niche players like U.K.-based Naim Audio Ltd. and Cambridge Audio. Ole Andersen, the chairman of B&O, told Danish newspaper Berlingske in 2014 that the company is too small to stay independent and needed to either scale back business areas or seek partners.
Qi was ranked 422nd on Hurun Report’s 2015 Rich List in China, which put his wealth at 8 billion yuan.