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Urge to Merge: Advanced Hearing Protection Means Enhanced Tactical Communication

Following the recently announced M&A between Invisio and Racal Acoustics, European Security & Defence had the opportunity to speak to the leadership at both organisations: INVISIO CEO Lars Højgård Hansen and Racal Acoustics SVP James Ewing.

ESD: Why was Racal Acoustics attractive to INVISIO?

James Ewing: Racal Acoustics have one of the strongest brands in the industry, it holds more than 100 years of history. They are a leading provider globally of communication and hearing protection solutions for high noise environments, typically found in the military, first responder and aviation sectors. Therefore, they complement INVISIO well.

Lars Højgård Hansen: INVISIO is a growth company and the acquisition is fully aligned with our growth strategy. The acquisition is a perfect fit, not only because we share the same vision of providing our customers with the most advanced hearing protections and communications solutions, but also because our product portfolios are largely complementary.

ESD: Which markets will INVISIO now be able to expand into?

Hansen: The acquisition will provide INVISIO with access to customers and prospects in the attractive market niche for communication and hearing protection in vehicles, which is a highly relevant area for the new INVISIO Intercom System.

We will operate as one company but with two world leading brands. Our combined sales team will be of a significant size to address both current and future opportunities.

Traditionally Racal Acoustics is very strong in the UK, Europe, and parts of Asia where as INVISIO holds a strong position in Europe and the US.

Together we will be able to solidify our position in key markets with both brands but also expand into new geographies.

ESD: Who are the new target audiences for a “Racal Acoustics-integrated INVISIO” – and what is the business potential (viz. earnings) over the next four to five years?

Ewing: We will be one company, but with two brands. Each brand will keep its focus on its present customer groups and markets.

Hansen: The business potential of this deal is very attractive in many aspects and is supporting our long-term growth strategy. In the last five year period we have been able to exceed our target of an average 20 per cent annual growth in revenue. We hence have a strong track record and with Racal Acoustics we have even better opportunities to continue to deliver strong growth.

ESD: What will happen with competing / complementary products – [such as] the T7 versus the RA5001 Raptor?

Ewing: The Racal and INVISIO portfolios are complementary and not competing. A differentiator between the INVISIO and Racal solutions is the dismounted vs. the mounted use case: The INVISIO T7 headset was designed as the ultimate performing headsets for users in extreme dismounted environments – (special forces and other professionals within the military operating in the field). It was developed to withstand parachuting from 12,000m altitude to being submerged down to 10m.

The RA5001 Raptor is ideal for use with next-generation commercial and military intercom systems in wheeled vehicles, shelters, and tactical operation centers.

ESD: How will Racal Acoustics’ line integrate with INVISIO control and intercom units?

Hansen: The Racal Acoustic product line will be integrated with the INVISIO product line, so they are fully compatible.  A key contributor is that Racal’s newest products are designed around a digital platform which supports the implementation of the patented INVISIO IntelliCable® technology that allows for seamless integration of all types of communication devices to our systems. We will offer our customers a unique and very brand portfolio of products that all work seamless together. No need for calibration or set-up.

ESD: How does the Racal Acoustics acquisition affect current contracts under consideration, underway or recently discontinued (for example USMC) for both companies?

Hansen: There is no immediate effect on contracts and agreements due to the acquisition. But there is no doubt that Racal Acoustics and INVISIO combined will have an even more attractive product portfolio for both current as well as future customers. All current INVISIO customers will now have access to the entire portfolio of Racal Acoustics products and vice versa.

ESD: What happens with the legacy Racal Acoustics products in service – for example the new seven year contract for supplying RA4000 Magna digital headset (et cetera) to the Danish Ministry of Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation?

Ewing: Nothing will change with existing contracts. We are very excited that the new and advance digital RA4000 Magna headset was chosen by DALO and we look forward to using this as an important reference case for other potential customers. The RA4000 Magna is state-of-the-art and we are sure it will become the new reference headset for hearing protection and communication in vehicles.

ESD: How does Racal Acoustics’ active noise reduction – ANR – compete / overlap / compare with INVISIOs combat hearing protection – CHP – standards or efficacy?

Hansen: These two technologies are complementary, and we look forward to integrating our knowledge and technologies when it comes to advanced hearing protection.  These will over time lead to even better protection levels and therefore greatly benefit and protect our hundreds of thousands of users globally.

ESD: When will the full integration of the two seemingly redundant and yet also disparate product lines happen?

Hansen: There is no timeline set. It will be a running process where we focus on specific customer opportunities and requirements in line with our company value of “Customer first”.  Our design teams are already collaborating on new products that can choose from the best of the best – combining Racal’s pedigree with INVISIO’s innovation.

ESD:  Thank you both for your candid insights and time during this busy period. Best wishes going forward.

Lars Højgård Hansen of INVISIO
James Ewing of Racal Acoustics