PE Firms Contact Aplifon About Siemens Hearing Aid Tie-Up

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Amplifon (AMPF.MI) has been contacted by several private equity funds for a possible tie-up with the hearing-aid unit of Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and Germany’s Geers, a person close to the talks said.

“These funds are very interested in such an operation, which would combine Siemens Audiology, which is a manufacturer, with someone who is active in distribution, like Amplifon,” the source told Reuters on Friday.

Italian weekly Il Mondo had earlier reported that there were plans to combine the three hearing aid companies.

The deal would create a globally operating, vertically integrated hearing-aid maker generating about 1.5 billion euros ($2.11 billion) in annual sales, Il Mondo said.

Shares in Amplifon were up 5.3 percent at 3.33 euros by 1245 GMT, while Italy’s blue-chip index was up 0.5 percent.

Siemens is considering a sale of its hearing aid unit.

Sources familiar with the matter said last week that Switzerland’s Synthes (SYST.VX) and Australia’s Cochlear Ltd (COH.AX) as well as five private equity companies were pursuing the unit. [ID:nLDE60L274] Binding bids are due in late February.

The source on Friday said that the idea for the merger came from the private equity funds, which came knocking on Amplifon’s door.

Hearing aid group Amplifon is 61 percent-owned by Ampliter, a group headed by Amplifon Chairman Anna Maria Formiggini.

Amplifon was not immediately available for comment. ($1=.7122 euros) (Reporting by Sabina Suzzi; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)