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Audibene plans IPO on Nasdaq under hear.com brand

Photo: Audi­bene foun­ders Marco Vietor (left) and Paul Crusius
5. May 2021

Berlin — With its plan­ned IPO, hear.com, the online hearing aid provi­der known in Germany as audi­bene, has finally joined the top league of inter­na­tio­nal TOP online star­tups. On April 19, the regis­tra­tion was submit­ted to the SEC (U.S. Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Commis­sion). Hear.com’s “HCG” paper is thus to be traded on Nasdaq.

Audi­bene is taking a small detour, which is not unusual for German compa­nies: The Dutch company and the simul­ta­ne­ous brand hear.com N.V. submit­ted the docu­ments because of the more favor­able condi­ti­ons under stock exchange law for an IPO in the USA.

From startup to listed company

Berlin, Mainz, Miami, Denver, Toronto, Utrecht, Seoul, Gura­gon (India) and Kuala Lumpur: it is impres­sive what has become of the former startup foun­ded in the capi­tal in 2012 that wanted to “shake up the hearing aid market”.

Now, almost 10 years later, the success story is to be crow­ned by an IPO. Among the first inves­tors are none other than Morgen Stan­ley, J.P. Morgan, Deut­sche Bank and Gold­man Sachs. The former two are acting as Lead Book-Running Mana­gers for the propo­sed offe­ring and as repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of all signa­to­ries to the propo­sed offering.

Hear.com facts and figures

World­wide, hear.com had nearly 5,200 part­ner compa­nies as of the repor­ting date of Sept. 30, 2020, inclu­ding 1,000 in Germany. 106,000 hearing aids were sold world­wide and exclu­ding returns at an average price of €1,426 per hearing aid. — This results in sales of 151 million euros (+26% compa­red to 2019 120 mill. euros). Over­all, the company gene­ra­ted a loss of €23.1 million (2019: €17.34 million). More than 1,500 employees work for hear.com, inclu­ding almost 200 techs.

Deve­lo­p­ment
Online hearing aid retailer Audi­bene was sold to hearing aid manu­fac­tu­rer Sivan­tos in 2015. The two foun­ders Paul Crusius and Marco Vietor remai­ned on board as mana­ging direc­tors. As part of the tran­sac­tion, both foun­ders, who previously held a majo­rity stake in Audi­bene, will receive shares in Sivan­tos Group.

Venture capi­ta­lists Acton Capi­tal Part­ners and Sunstone Capi­tal, as well as an unknown number of busi­ness angels such as entre­pre­neur Stephan Schu­bert, had all sold their stakes in Sivan­tos. Berlin scene heads such as Project-A-Ventures CEO Florian Heine­mann, Edar­ling foun­ders Lukas Bros­se­der and David Khalil, as well as Zalando’s former head of marke­ting, Oliver Roskopf, were also inves­ted in the startup.

Invest­ments for more growth and independence

The company aims to raise $100 million through the IPO. Among other things, this will be used to repay share­hol­der loans to WS Audio­logy that fall due between 2021 and 2023. In addi­tion, a plan­ned rest­ruc­tu­ring is to be put on a stable footing, and the rema­in­der is to be used for gene­ral corpo­rate purpo­ses, inclu­ding finan­cing further growth and imple­men­ting the busi­ness stra­tegy. Further acqui­si­ti­ons are also being considered.

The speci­fic areas in which further invest­ments are to be made remain open. But this is of course where the months after the IPO will be parti­cu­larly exci­ting. For inves­tors, howe­ver, the success story of the model itself and the expec­ted global incre­ase in demand and the resul­ting growth fore­casts in gene­ral should be reason enough for an invest­ment. Whether they then jump into the topics of multich­an­nel sales (online and tradi­tio­nal retail), tech­no­logy (online hearing tests, consu­mer jour­ney) or remote fitting will certainly be some­thing to read about.

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