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Harman To Retire From Company He Founded

Harman International founder Dr. Sidney Harman, whose audio-industry career dates to 1953 with the launch of the world’s first stereo receiver, will retire as chairman on July 1 and from the company’s board of directors on Dec. 3.

Harman, 89, will be succeeded by Dinesh C. Paliwal, who will assume the dual position of chairman/CEO on July 1, the start of the company’s fiscal year. Paliwal has been president, CEO and vice chairman since joining the company in July 2007. The president’s position will not be filled, although Paliwal will function as president, a spokesman said.

Harman will become chairman emeritus and remain “a source of counsel,” the spokesman added.

During his short tenure at the 11,000-employee company, Paliwal, 50, has presided over a restructuring of Harman’s consumer specialty group, the appointment of a new consumer division president, and the appointments of a new chief financial officer, chief technology officer and automotive division CEO.

Before joining Harman, Paliwal, was president of ABB Limited, a global automation and power technology company. He spent 22 years with ABB with management positions in Australia, China, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States. He currently serves on the boards of telecom company Embarq, Harman International and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He has been a member of the U.S. Business Roundtable since 2004 and served previously as chairman of the U.S. National Foreign Trade Council, director of the U.S.-China Business Council, and director of the U.S.-India Business Council.

Dr. Harman began his audio career in 1953 when he and partner Bernard Kardon developed the world’s first stereo receiver during the early years of the hi-fi industry. Harman bought out his partner in 1956 and then built up Harman Kardon into an audio powerhouse, according to a biography written by the Consumer Electronics Industry Hall of Fame. In the 1970s, Harman was appointed undersecretary of the Department of Commerce during the Carter Administration.

When Harman took office in 1976, he sold his company to conglomerate Beatrice Foods to avoid a conflict of interest. When he left government in 1980, he created Harman International Industries by reacquiring a number of businesses that he sold to Beatrice. They included JBL, Harman Kardon, Infinity and Epicure loudspeakers. Harman International later expanded to the professional audio market and in OEM sound systems and electronics sold to automakers.

“I recruited Dinesh Paliwal to become our CEO with high expectations, and he has validated my confidence by bringing remarkable energy and expertise to the company,” said Dr. Harman. “As I approach my 90th birthday, it is clearly a very good time to endorse Dinesh’s leadership and his outstanding team. I am confident that they will honor the company’s rich history and work effectively to build its future.”

Paliwal said, “I look forward to building upon Dr. Harman’s heritage as we create an even stronger and more successful Harman International.”

Harman brands in the home, car, and professional audio markets now include AKG, Audioaccess, Becker, BSS, Crown, DBX, DigiTech, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson, Revel, QNX, Soundcraft and Studer.