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Samsung buys Harman International to acquire audio and car-tech brands

Samsung has finalised its deal to buy Harman International for £6.5bn. What does the acquisition mean for the companies' products?

Samsung has bought Harman International, which owns several audio companies including AKG, JBL and Harman Kardon, to the tune of $8bn, or £6.5bn.

It announced the purchase in November of last year, but only completed the deal on 11 March.

It’s Samsung’s biggest acquisition to date, and it means the South Korean firm now controls all Harman’s audio brands, as well as several car-technology firms including AMX LLC and Bang & Olufen’s car-technology division. Both companies specialise in in-car entertainment.

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Why did Samsung buy Harman?

Takeovers within the tech industry aren’t uncommon, but acquisitions of this size are. For Samsung to pay such a high price means it has a gap in its portfolio. Considering that the company already manufactures incredibly successful phones and TVs – as well as digital cameras, printers, laptops and more – there aren’t many holes to fill.

It’s Harman’s car-technology business that Samsung is interested in. By acquiring Harman, Samsung has caught up with Apple and Google. Both the American tech giants have been investing heavily in connected car technology, with the aim of making your car as much a part of your smart home as any smart thermostat or wireless security camera.

Harman already has established relationships with the likes of BMW, Volkswagen and Ford – relationships that Samsung can now capitalise on.

Samsung can also make use of Harman’s audio expertise. Despite already having a range of wireless multi-room speakers, Samsung’s name does not hold as much weight as it does for TVs. By buying an established, well-respected audio brand, Samsung gets a better foothold into the high-end audio market, while also broadening into cheaper models with JBL.

Look at our list of Best Buy wireless speakers to see if Samsung’s range features.

How will this affect Samsung’s products?

Harman is now a subsidiary of Samsung, but the Harman name isn’t going away. Quite the opposite – we expect to see ‘sound engineered by Harman’, or something similar, appearing on Samsung’s TVs and possibly its speaker, sound bar and home cinema ranges, too.

Likewise, we don’t expect any of Harman’s brands to be going away, either. You’ll still see AKG headphonesJBL speakers and Harman Kardon wireless speakers in the aisles of your local John Lewis, because it isn’t in Samsung’s interests to change the branding of successful products.

Find out if AKG models are good enough to make it on to our list of Best Buy headphones.

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