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‘A new era has started’: CEOs discuss their plans for 2019 post RCF Group’s acquisition of DPA Microphones

DPA was bought by RCF in December 2018, and PSNEurope's editor Daniel Gumble talks with RCF CEO Arturo Vicari and DPA CEO Kalle Hvidt Nielsen about their future plans in this exclusive interview

Last month, the announcement that Italy’s RCF Group had acquired Danish microphone giant DPA Microphones sent shockwaves through the pro audio industry. However, high-profile acquisitions and brand partnerships are hardly anything new in today’s pro audio market. Over the past few years, manufacturers, rental firms and suppliers have all been examining the ways in which they can pool their resources and combine their efforts. To list the numerous high-profile deals of this kind from recent history would take up far too much valuable time and space, suffice to say the second half of 2018 provided some particularly notable transactions, including SSE Audio Group’s acquisition of Capital Sound, then SSE’s acquisition by Solotech and RCF Group’s purchase of sleeping US loudspeaker giant EAW.

But while all of these deals dominated the headlines, it was last month’s RCF acquisition of the iconic DPA brand that really set tongues wagging, marking the Italian organisation’s first foray into the world of microphones and asserting its reputation not only as the fastest growing company in the business, but also as an all-round audio solutions provider.

“We were looking for another company to add to our roster, in order to become one of the biggest audio groups, and we were looking for an excellence that could complete the audio chain,” RCF Group Arturo Vicari tells PSNEurope.

“Yes, [the microphone market] is indeed new territory for us, but we have been in the audio industry since 1949 and have 70 years of experience and intuition. We knew that we wanted to add a strong, well-known company and that a microphone brand would complete the audio chain. Hence, when we realised that DPA was up for sale we couldn’t miss out on that opportunity. DPA will fit very well into the RCF Group, and when the two amalgamate, the results will be incredible.

“For sure this is a big change for the group, and we are now able to be more competitive and offer complete audio solutions. The RCF Group has several excellent products to cover all the needs that end users want, from large to small concerts, fixed installations, stadia, churches etc.”

Previously owned by private equity firm The Riverside Company, DPA is certainly on the course to benefit from the collective wisdom and pro audio nous offered by the RCF Group, which, according to DPA CEO Kalle Hvidt Nielsen, will be an ideal home for the Danish brand. “Riverside decided to sell DPA after five fruitful years, during which the company has grown considerably,” he explains to PSNEurope.

“There were many interested buyers during the past few months. After a thorough selection and vetting process on both sides, Riverside and RCF agreed upon a mutually beneficial deal. We believe that the knowledge shared between DPA and RCF Group will be of benefit for us both. RCF Group’s unique expertise in loudspeaker systems and mixing desks complements DPA’s leading position in high-end microphones systems.” Nielsen also points to RCF’s past for an example of how the Italian business has successfully worked the microphone market.

“RCF Group actually focused on advanced ribbon microphone designs back when it was established, so the company does have some background in microphones,” he continues.

“They have extensive experience in wireless systems and, since microphones for use in these systems is a major part of what DPA does, it seems like a good match. Having in-house knowledge of these systems will enable us to design even better mics for wireless solutions. We believe that we are on the right path with a new and ambitious strategy. RCF Group has the same opinion and plans to support us in developing further in this direction.”

According to both Vicari and Nielsen, the mutual benefits are myriad, while the day-to-day running of DPA will very much be business as usual.

“RCF Group’s unique expertise in loudspeaker systems and mixing desks is very complementary to DPA’s world leading position in high-end microphone systems, being under the same ownership opens new opportunities for all of us,” said Vicari.

“There are many synergies between the two companies, regarding technologies, market segments and geographical coverage,” Nielsen adds. “Together we can offer our customers solutions that cover their needs across the entire audio chain , which is a win-win situation. In addition, having an owner familiar with the pro audio industry makes it easier to discuss the business – its trends, opportunities and challenges – with a long-term goal in mind.

“The brand will stay the same, the quality will stay the same, the sound will stay the same. We are still a Danish business, with the same strategy, the same management, production in Asnæs, headquarters in Allerød, the same employees, the same distribution chain model and the same high-quality products that our customers know and love worldwide.

“[Personally] I will have a different type of relationship with RCF Group because of their history and market knowledge but, my role will be the same. I am excited to learn from the RCF Group’s view of the pro audio market and I will use that information to help grow DPA. I also believe that the other members of the RCF group can learn from how DPA have developed its business.”

Nielsen also believes that his brand will be able to make a significant contribution to its new owner’s heft in the marketplace.

“We can bring a lot to the RCF group: a Scandinavian mindset, engineering expertise in high-precision microphone capsules and a world-wide leading position in high-end microphones systems, to name a few,” he states. “We add professional solutions in the first (and most important, we believe) step of the audio chain to RCF Group’s repertoire of solutions.”

As we enter the new year, the future certainly looks bright for both parties, as each looks set to build further on their 2018 successes. In the case of both RCF and DPA Microphones, the message is very much ‘watch this space’.

Nielsen says: “The fact that we can continue our ambitious plan with a professional partner from the pro audio business is a huge advantage. I believe that it will benefit the DPA brand as well as the RCF Group. The only challenge may be that I will have to learn Italian!” “RCF Group is constantly looking to grow to become one of the most important in the world,” Vicari concludes. “A new era has started.”