GN Great Nordic to purchase Beltone
Minnetonka, MN — The GN Great Nordic Group, Copenhagen, which includes GN ReSound, Redwood City, CA, announced in late-May that it had agreed to purchase Beltone Electronics Corp., Chicago. The companies report that, after the agreement is concluded, the combined interests of GN Great Nordic will make it one of the two largest hearing instrument manufacturers in the world.

Last spring, Beltone purchased the hearing technology division of Royal Philips Electronics, The Netherlands (see May 1999 HR Registry, pg. 7), gaining access to Philips’ digital technology and strengthening Beltone’s presence overseas. GN Great Nordic acquired ReSound Corp. shortly thereafter. With the present acquisition announcement, GN Great Nordic will have been expanded to include GN Danavox/ReSound (GN ReSound), Madsen, Beltone and Philips Hearing Instruments. The acquisition is said to strengthen GN Great Nordic’s position in the U.S. market while making GN ReSound a market leader in Japan, and bolstering its position in The Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Germany, France and the UK. After GN Danavox merged with ReSound Corp. last spring, the combined sales of GN ReSound were $229 million (US), according to the company. In 1999, the Beltone group (including Philips) reportedly posted sales of $149 million.

“GN Great Nordic determined very recently that, if we were to remain a major player in this industry, we would have to become one of the largest, if not the largest, player,” says David Smriga, vice president of industry and public relations at GN ReSound. He says the acquisition of Beltone is also consistent with the company’s goal to achieve and maintain a leadership position in each of its respective industries.

The purchase is yet one more component in the consolidation movement within the hearing care field, according to Beltone U.S. President Mike Skiera. “We felt strongly, as evidenced by our purchase of the Philips Hearing Instruments division last year, that this industry needed to consolidate. Mike Cannizzaro, Beltone’s President of worldwide operations, has been very open about the fact that Beltone was interested in acquiring other companies, and we approached several. It just happened that GN Great Nordic came along with a great opportunity that made a lot of sense for both companies, and we couldn’t pass it up. There are now five very good names and product reputations under the GN Great Nordic umbrella company.”

Beltone will continue to operate as an independent division of the GN ReSound Group, according to both companies. “Beltone and GN ReSound obviously serve different markets,” says Smriga, “and we feel it’s important to remain as completely separate entities, continue to excel at what we’re good at and keep the distinctions between our businesses and product lines.” Smriga says there will be no crossover in products and, at the dispensing level in the U.S., there should be no changes. He states that changes probably will occur in Europe where there may be some consolidation of retail outlets (e.g., Viennatone, Beltone and Philips), as well as possible consolidation in the companies’ purchases of components from suppliers.

Skiera says that Beltone will continue to develop products through its own R&D facilities and its partnership with Philips in The Netherlands, independent of GN ReSound. Likewise, most corporate functions between Beltone/Philips and GN ReSound will remain separate. Jesper Mailind, president and CEO of GN ReSound, will become president and CEO of the combined GN ReSound and Beltone business unit. Michael Cannizzaro, Beltone’s current president and CEO, will be responsible for the Beltone Americas and Asian Pacific operations, while Skiera will continue as president of Beltone USA. Carsten Trads will continue as president of GN ReSound North America.

For more information on the consolidation movement, see Smriga and Trads article in the April 2000 issue of HR, pgs. 8-16.


AHAA introduces Internet business-to-business company with an ASP
Malvern, PA — In mid-June, American Hearing Aid Associates (AHAA) reportedly became the first company in the hearing health care field to provide a full range of Internet B2B e-commerce services and an application service provider (ASP). The ASP is an information systems company that stores on its server an array of brand-name software applications. The ASP then provides access to them to clients for a monthly fee directly over the Internet.

The services are being provided to nearly 900 hearing health care professionals who are in AHAA’s nationwide network via the company’s interactive website, www.ahaabizlink.com. Most of the day-to-day interactions between the company’s home and regional offices and its associates that are currently being done by phone, mail and training classrooms will now be transferred via the website. “The advantages for our associates will include greater ease and efficiency in running their practices, which translates into increased profits,” says Vince Russomagno, CEO of AHAA.

Services that will be available through the website include account status, manufacturer price lists, billing statements and payments, customer service, AHAA newsletters and bulletins, clinical best practice information and a chat room. The site also gives associates access to an ASP for services via the Internet, including basic e-mail, business software and networking. AHAA has partnered with Ai8, a leading ASP which provides business software such as Microsoft’s Exchange, Office and Lotus Notes.

Users can access their e-mail and records from any computer with a web browser. By paying a monthly fee for AHAABizWare, AHAA associates reportedly gain access to the advantages of networked computers without having to purchase software and server hardware. The fees include software upgrades and 24-hour system support. Mi8 guarantees maximum security and daily backup for information AHAA clients put on the system, according to the company.


NOAH 3.0 delayed until October 2000
Copenhagen, Denmark — HIMSA announced that it will delay the final release date of its NOAH System software version 3.0. The June 2000 release date, announced at the March AAA Convention in Chicago, has now been changed to October 2000.

“In late March, HIMSA began a series of beta tests to attain feedback on the quality of our product,” says Torben Dyrvig, managing director of HIMSA A/S. “The overall results were positive and in line with the release date set in June. However, after sifting through the comments, corrections and suggestions, we have determined that it would be in the interest of our users to delay the release until October. This would allow us to add additional minor features, obtain optimal performance and ensure the high quality and usability of our user interface.”

The delay will also ensure that a wider assortment of modules will be available from HIMSA member companies when the product is released. More information on NOAH system version 3.0 can be obtained by visiting the company’s website at www.himsa.com.


In’Tech industries moves to its new facilities
Ramsey, MN — In’Tech Industries announced in May that it had moved to its new building. The company’s new address is 7180 Sunwood Dr., NW, Ramsey, MN 55303; phone: (763) 576-8100; fax: (763) 576-8101.