Philanthropic healthcare foundation buys into developing WS Audiology

Busy month for Danish hearing group brings capital boosts.

Peter WIX, Published on 19 April 2024

Philanthropic healthcare foundation buys into developing WS Audiology

The Denmark-based Lundbeck Foundation has announced an agreement with T&W (Tøpholm and Westermann ) Medical to acquire a minority share of the latter’s 51% majority stake in WS Audiology (WSA), the parent group of Widex and Signia hearing device brands.

In a bustling week for WSA, during which it has also announced a leadership change from July 2024, this strengthening of capital for the hearing health group also means support for its long-term development. This is what the Lundbeck Foundation does, its investment mission being to finance in ‘bringing discoveries to lives’, and it already owns several international healthcare companies – Lundbeck, Falck, ALK, Ferrosan Medical Devices and Ellab – while also providing philanthropic grants to science talents and programmes in Danish universities.

Although the parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price or additional details of the transaction, it does mean the Lundbeck Foundation becomes part of WS Audiology’s ownership group together and gets one member on the board, to be appointed at WSA’s next general meeting.

Lene Skole, CEO of the Lundbeck Foundation, said: “We are pleased to join T&W Medical in this partnership and share the ambition of supporting WS Audiology’s long-term development as a true global leader in the hearing aid industry.”

For T&W Medical, CEO Lars Nørgaard commented: “The Lundbeck Foundation is a perfect strategic partner for our majority ownership of WS Audiology. We are thrilled to welcome such a highly competent and engaged owner sharing our long-term investment horizon and dedication to stellar healthcare companies rooted in Denmark. Our shared focus on harnessing innovation to improve quality of life and our joint experience as strategic owners provide a solid foundation for our partnership.”

WS Audiology is a global leader in the hearing aid industry with more than 12,500 employees in 130 markets and three main R&D centers in Denmark, Germany and Singapore.

WS Audiology already secured a refinancing deal in March

On March 18, WS Audiology announced successful completion of the syndication of a refinancing transaction, extending the maturities of WSA’s remaining EUR 3.3 billion long-term loans by three years to 2029. It includes a significant increase in the Group’s working capital facilities, supported by an international banking syndicate.

As part of the transaction, WSA’s shareholders, T&W Medical and funds managed by EQT, which has 49% of WSA, plan to inject an additional EUR 500 million in equity, resulting in a significant reduction of WSA’s net leverage, said the group.

Since 2021, WSA has generated annual organic revenue growth of 10% to EUR 2,465 million in FY 2022/2023 and maintained an EBITDA margin of above 21%. Based on the solid revenue growth in the first three months of FY 2023/2024, WSA revised 2023/2024 revenue guidance from 6-10% to 7-10% organic growth.