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Blaupunkt, Looking For Partners, May Be Sold

12/16/2008 01:04:00 PM Eastern

Broadview, Ill. — In response to shifts in the consumer electronics car radio market, Blaupunkt is looking for partners for its car radio consumer business and may put that division up for sale.

Blaupunkt, a division under Robert Bosch GMBH, is looking at three options: a strategic partnership with another technology company, a joint venture or the sale of the Blaupunkt aftermarket (consumer) business, said Blaupunkt national sales manager Andy Oswick.

Blaupunkt will not formally exhibit at International CES. The only aftermarket technology from Blaupunkt slated for display at CES will appear in the Bosch booth. This technology is the result of a recently announced partnership between Blaupunkt and the Internet radio portal MiRoamer. The two companies are jointly developing an aftermarket Internet radio device for the car with further details to be announced at CES. Representatives from Blaupunkt will be on hand at the Bosch exhibit, said Oswick.

The decision to revamp Blaupunkt was borne of shifts in the car radio business as cars increasingly ship with radios that are tied to safety and other car equipment.

“If we look at the environment within a vehicle, it is changing from where it was a single radio and you could order the vehicle without a radio and add it yourself. Now the radio may not even be behind the dashboard. The controls are there, but the actual radio reception may be done through another box in the vehicle,” said Oswick.

Bosch has decided to produce OEM car electronics products that fit with this new model. However, since these new products will no longer be similar to aftermarket radios, the company no longer has the resources to devote to Blaupunkt aftermarket products and it is looking for a partner. Blaupunkt, retains strong brand recognition in car audio, particularly in Europe and in emerging markets, said Oswick.

Blaupunkt is working with UBS which has helped the company conduct a market study and approach other companies. Blaupunkt is currently in ongoing discussions with a small number of companies.

Oswick stressed, “This is being done to strengthen the Blaupunkt brand and everything the brand has stood for since its inception including quality and technology.” Blaupunkt was one of the first companies to market an in-vehicle navigation system, he said.

The Bosch Car Multimedia division will become exclusively an OEM division that produces car radio for auto makers where presently it is an OEM and aftermarket division, said Oswick.

iSuppli estimates that fourth quarter PND sales will be flat in units but may be down in dollars by 10 percent. For the year, PND unit sales are projected to be up around 30 percent "since the growth rate was quite good in the first half of 2008," said Egil Juliussen, a principal Analyst at iSuppli.  PND dollar sales for the full year 2008 should be up slightly, he added.

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