$52m stake in Teac of Japan is music to Gibson’s ears

Guitar maker Gibson hopes to inject some “cool Japan” into its brand after agreeing a $52 million (£34.2m) deal to take control of Japanese audio equipment firm Teac.

The US group, which makes instruments favoured by the likes of Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Angus Young of AC/DC, said the purchase of a 54.4 per cent stake in Teac would expand its product range and open up more markets in Asia.

Gibson chairman and chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz said: “We have both known each other for a long time and share a vision for the future: bringing together world-class engineering and technical innovation in the audio space.”

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Teac was founded in 1953 as the Tokyo Electro Acoustic Company. The firm is known for its consumer hi-fi products and has a strong presence in the professional audio sector.

The Japanese firm’s cassette-based Portastudio was credited with starting a home recording boom when it was launched in 1979. Although multi-track recording had been pioneered 30 years earlier by Les Paul – whose namesake guitar is made by Gibson – Teac’s device became popular among aspiring musicians who were unable to afford access to professional studios.

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Juszkiewicz added: “Gibson is a strong believer in ‘cool Japan’ and together with Teac, we look forward to not only contributing to the global understanding of the cool products emanating from Japan in the music area, but also promoting the excellence of Japanese innovation in the industry.”

Nashville-based Gibson, which was founded in 1894, also has a holding in Japanese consumer audio group Onkyo, which formed a strategic alliance with Teac in January last year when the two firms bought stakes in each other.

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Teac president Yuji Hanabusa said: “We are very excited to join forces with one of the global legends in the music industry.

“This combination brings together two companies with state-of-the-art technologies in the music space and will allow us to pursue a shared mission to develop innovative new products to further enhance the consumer experience.”

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Although Gibson is best known for its electric guitars, it also produces Baldwin 
pianos and Wurlitzer jukeboxes. Its range of audio products include speakers made under the Cerwin-Vega and KRK Systems brands, along with the Stanton range of DJ equipment.

The tie-up with Teac will give the group more access to Asian markets and help it expand its Stanton product range. Both firms said they expect to save on distribution costs in the US and Europe by combining their logistics operations.