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Pioneer to Be Acquired by Private Equity Firm

The parent company of Pioneer Pro Audio is set to be acquired in January

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Pioneer DJ, which owns the Pioneer Pro Audio brand, was a subsidiary of Pioneer. In fact, less than 15 percent of Pioneer DJ is owned by Pioneer; private equity firm KKR purchased a controlling 85.05% share of Pioneer DJ in March, 2015.

Consumer electronics icon Pioneer has agreed to be acquired by a Hong Kong private equity firm for $904 million.

Pending a shareholder vote on Jan. 25, Pioneer would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Baring Private Equity Asia, which describes itself as one of the largest independent equity firms on the continent.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the plan calls for Pioneer to cut its workforce by about 15 percent, or about 2,500 employees, and for Baring to replace most of Pioneer’s board, including 10-year chairman Susumu Kotani, with its own officers. President Koichi Moriya would retain his post, albeit without a salary until the company returns to a growth track.

The sale reflects softened demand for aftermarket automotive tech, a core Pioneer category, as smartphone apps and advanced OEM equipment supplant navigation and A/V installs.

Pioneer has projected an operating loss of 5 billion yen for its current fiscal year ending March 2019, due largely to a 5.5 billion yen loss in its core 12-volt business, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

The company was founded in 1938 by Nozomu Matsumoto, who crafted audio speakers in his garage, and would go on to introduce the laser disc, car CD player, GPS car navigation, the DVD video player, and HD plasma displays, among other consumer tech innovations.

Pioneer Pro Audio produces active reference monitors; reference monitor headphones; various live sound loudspeaker lines; including its GS-Wave Series, aimed at the club market; DJ equipment; and more. It is also the parent company of Technical Audio Devices Laboratories (TAD).