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Resound Omnia - August 2022

GN Hearing Acquires New York Based Lively – A Leader in Online Hearing Care

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  • GN Hearing acquires New York based Lively – a leading online hearing care and digital marketing platform, enabling consumers to explore, purchase and receive hearing care from licensed hearing care professionals in the U.S. all from the comfort of their home
  • Following the acquisition, GN Hearing gains access to the fast-growing telehealth market, utilizing a proven business model with rapid growth
  • Today, two-thirds of Lively’s consumer inquiries are looking for either an online experience with access to a clinic or have severe to profound losses requiring in-clinic care. When combining GN Hearing and Lively, a new offering will be developed to meet these consumers’ needs by providing access to GN Hearing’s network of hearing care professionals
  • The purchase price is DKK 625 million on a debt and cash free basis for 91% ownership of Lively

Gitte Aabo, CEO of GN Hearing, says: “Today, only one in five people who could benefit from hearing improvement wears hearing aids. Hearing health is being elevated on the overall healthcare agenda. Lively and GN Hearing joining forces will combined with our network of hearing care professionals be an important part of bringing hearing health to a new level.”

Adam Karp, CEO of Lively, says: “We are thrilled to join the GN family due to the company’s advanced tele-audiology solutions, pioneering spirit in connectivity and unique sound processing capabilities. In addition to our premier online experience using licensed hearing care professionals virtually, together with GN Hearing’s network of Beltone and ReSound customers, we can develop new offerings for many more potential consumers who seek both an online experience and access to a clinic. Being part of GN will accelerate our growth and ability to achieve our vision to empower everyone to reach their full hearing potential.”

Lively

Headquartered in New York City, U.S., Lively was founded in 2018 by Adam Karp, Elad Kolet and Nicole Cadoret and built on Redesign Health, a platform that powers innovation in healthcare. Lively's mission is to empower people with hearing loss to connect with their world through effortless technology and delightful care. Pioneering a fully virtual hearing care journey, Lively is a customer-first, end-to-end audiology platform that makes it easier for users to buy advanced hearing technology with licensed professional care. Lively has consistently delivered on high customer satisfaction with a Net Promoter Score above 60, while return rates have been significantly below comparable offerings in the market.

As one of the most integrated digital marketing platforms in hearing health, Lively has deep expertise in engaging with customers that are active on social media and are becoming more and more comfortable buying online. These customers are almost ten years younger than users seen in hearing care clinics. GN Hearing has been the sole supplier of hearing aids to Lively since the company launched providing the opportunity to closely follow the success of Lively and interact with the management team. GN Hearing and Lively share the ambition of bringing hearing health to even more people. Lively offers GN Hearing’s current hearing care professionals scale and a platform to operate, engage and compete online for these younger, more tech-savvy consumers who are looking for access to a physical clinic or seeking solutions for severe to profound hearing loss that cannot be served virtually.  

Today’s online market is estimated to account for around 4% of the U.S. hearing care market. With the coming introduction of OTC devices and younger consumers seeking hearing solutions, the online segment is expected to grow at a much faster pace than other segments. Lively has executed strongly on its competitive advantages and has outgrown the market since inception. In 2021, Lively is expected to deliver revenue of around DKK 100 million and an EBITA of around DKK -170 million reflecting the early-stage growth profile of the company. 

Strategic rationale

With the increasing digitalization of the world, consumers demand online solutions and services also from the hearing industry. The online space has been growing for several years and has been accelerated by the pandemic. Further, the U.S. OTC hearing aid regulation is expected to expand the market, in particular by driving earlier adoption for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss and younger consumer segments.

GN Hearing has prepared for the emergence of a future environment that now crystalizes. GN Hearing’s strategy has centered on not owning retail locations that compete with our customers. The acquisition of Lively will directly benefit GN Hearing’s network of hearing care professionals by adding valuable capabilities to GN’s operations, including digital channel access, in-depth expertise of digital marketing and telehealth, and data driven consumer behavior to attract new, younger consumers.

Key transaction highlights

Following the transaction, GN Hearing has an ownership of 91%, while the remaining 9% is held by the current management team of Lively, with GN Hearing having an option to acquire the remaining 9% at pre-defined terms. The purchase price is DKK 625 million for the acquisition of Lively on a debt and cash free basis and the transaction is expected to close within a week when all relevant documents are in place. The transaction will be financed as 100% cash payment and GN’s long-term leverage target of 1-2x NIBD/EBITDA is confirmed.

The financial guidance for 2022, including Lively, will be communicated in connection with the Annual Report 2021.

About GN Group

The GN Group enables people to Hear More, Do More and Be More through its intelligent hearing, audio and video collaboration solutions. Inspired by people and driven by our innovation leadership, we leverage technological synergies between our hearing and audio divisions to deliver unique and increasingly individualized user experiences in our products and solutions.

150 years ago, GN was founded with a truly innovative and global mindset. Today, we honor that legacy with world-leading expertise in the human ear, sound and video processing, wireless technology, miniaturization and collaborations with leading technology partners. GN's solutions are marketed by the brands ReSound, Beltone, Interton, Jabra, BlueParrott and FalCom in 100 countries. Founded in 1869, the GN Group employs 6,500 people and is listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen (GN.CO).

Visit our homepage GN.com - and connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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