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Meridian Acquires Sooloos

New York — High-end A/V supplier Meridian Audio will enter the home A/V-server market with the acquisition of media-server supplier Sooloos. The purchase price was not disclosed.

“The downloading and streaming of content can no longer be ignored,” said U.K.-based chief marketing officer Graeme Taylor.

Meridian will assume responsibility for worldwide distribution of Sooloos products, providing the resources for Sooloos to achieve “wider market access,” Taylor said. Sooloos has been marketing its products for only two years and has a dealer base of 80 U.S. dealers and 20 international distributors, mainly in continental Europe. Meridian is marketed in many more countries, said Sooloos COO Peter Wellikoff. U.S. distribution will be

handled by U.S.-based Meridian America, and international distribution will be handled out of Meridian’s U.K. offices.

Sooloss’s founders, key Sooloos executives and R&D staff will stay on board, and current Sooloos products will retain the Sooloos brand, the executives said. In the future, products could bear the Meridian brand or Sooloos brand, but the merged company isn’t considering co-branded products, Wellikoff said.

The acquisition represents more than just an opportunity for Meridian to get into servers, Wellikoff said. “Meridian could take the core of our technologies and go further. A Sooloos [touchscreen] controller could be the centerpiece of a Meridian system and talk to Meridian products.” The market “will undoubtedly see Sooloos technology in Meridian products” and vice versa, Taylor added.

As for distribution, Meridian “won’t open everything to everybody,” Taylor said. “We will select the best of Meridian dealers and Sooloos dealers” to offer both brands. “Nether side is committed,” Wellikoff added, “to the total unification of distribution.”

Wellikoff also pointed out that “our customers are very similar. The only difference is the way we go to market.” Sooloos uses independent reps, and Meridian uses a factory-direct sales force, he said.

Besides similar customers, the two companies also share a passion for music, high-quality design and a pursuit of excellence, Taylor noted.

Meridian makes high-end two-channel and multichannel audio components, video projectors, active DSP speakers, custom-installed speakers and other audio electronics

Sooloos entered the multizone-audio market with CD-ripping music servers that stream music to Ethernet-networked clients and to traditional multi-room-audio systems. Its latest servers also store standard- and high-definition video imported from a networked PC, and they deliver online access to Rhapsody’s music service, YouTube videos and Flickr photo-sharing site.