Samsung to Acquire Harman in $8B Deal, But Now What?

Samsung’s $112 per share acquisition of Harman International leaves room for speculation on the future of Harman’s AMX automation brand.

It’s all about perspective.

Samsung announced today that it’s acquiring Harman International for $112 per share or roughly $8 billion creating a merger with major impact on the commercial integration market.

Here’s the thing:

From reading Samsung’s press release announcing the acquisition it’s not necessarily clear that the commercial integration market exists.

Instead, the global makers of displays, smart phones and countless other appliances emphasizes Harman’s role in the connected car and the Internet of things.

It makes no mention of automation brand AMX, which was acquired by Harman in 2014, unless you count this:

Connected Services:  Samsung will gain access to HARMAN’s 8,000 software designers and engineers who are unlocking the potential of the IoT market.  This collaboration will deliver the next generation of cloud-based consumer and enterprise experiences, as well as end-to-end services for the automotive market through the convergence of design, data and devices.

As sister brand CE Pro points out, Samsung has demonstrated that it’s focused on the smart home via its SmartThings home automation business which it also acquired in 2014.

Samsung is embedding SmartThings technology in all of its new Smart TVs as well as some major appliances and other electronics.

CE Pro’s Julie Jacobson adds that Samsung is also Internet of things focused.

[L]ast year Samsung launched its own IoT chipset and cloud development platform called Artik, and this year the company announced a $1.2 billion R&D initiative in IoT.

Mainstream pundits—for example, Forbes, SlashGear and Computer World—seem to be painting the acquisition as Samsung’s attempt to target Apple CarPlay.

Is it possible that giant, ambitious initiative displaced any focus that might have fallen on automation opportunities and AMX? If so, is it possible that there is not a plan for AMX under the Samsung umbrella?

CE Pro’s Jacobson, a leading home automation reporter and columnist, ends her coverage with some speculation on who might be a candidate to buy AMX from Samsung?

And if Samsung isn’t interested in AMX, who would acquire the company? AMX has been tossed around quite a few times over the past 15 years or so. It was public, then private, then public when it was acquired by Duchossois in 2005, which sold it to Harman in 2014. It’s a challenge to think of who might acquire AMX—outside of its own managers—if Samsung chose to divest, but if it looks like that might happen, I’ll put my thinking cap on and venture some suggestions.

Whether or not AMX is poised to be sold isn’t clear at this point. Along those lines, much about the future of AMX remains unclear.

The transaction, which is subject to approval by Harman shareholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in mid-2017.