Tobii Dynavox enters agreement to acquire Acapela Group, enabling innovation in communication aids
Tobii AB (publ) (“Tobii”), through the wholly owned subsidiary of Tobii Dynavox AB (“Tobii Dynavox”), the world leader in assistive technology for communication, has today announced that its subsidiary, Tobii Dynavox, has entered into an agreement to acquire all the shares in the Belgian company Acapela Group Babel Technologies SA (“Acapela Group”). Tobii Dynavox is the world leader in assistive technology for communication. Acapela Group is a worldwide provider of digital voices and AI-powered speech synthesis software. Tobii Dynavox will pay EUR 9.8 million in cash and the deal is subject to approval by the relevant competition authorities and certain other conditions and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.
Acapela Group is a provider of speech synthesis and digital voices solutions in areas such as assistive technology for communication, special education, public transport and customer interaction. Acapela Group’s robust technology platform, increasingly based on deep learning and artificial intelligence, enables the creation of very high quality, customized synthetic voices. Based on 30 years of expertise, strong partnerships and innovative development, Acapela Group has created a strong brand and a valuable asset base, with over 200 high quality synthetic voices, available in over 30 languages. Acapela Group's products are currently sold together with Tobii Dynavox’s assistive technology for communication, as well as by many other companies in the area of assistive technology for communication and also other applications. The company has around 50 employees and is headquartered in Mons, Belgium. Acapela Group’s turnover in 2020 was approximately EUR 6 million with an EBIT margin of 14%.
Reasons for the acquisition
Tobii Dynavox considers the primary value creation resulting from this acquisition to in particular arise from innovation and accelerated development of technologies and solutions for speech synthesis, as a vital part of assistive technology for communication. In addition, the acquisition creates the conditions for increased sales of both companies’ products.
“We continue in our quest to give all people with communication impairments a voice and the opportunity to be who they want to be,” says Fredrik Ruben, CEO of Tobii Dynavox. “Tobii Dynavox and Acapela Group have been successful partners for many years. The merger will deepen this relationship further, providing great opportunities to create solutions that enable our users to create their own identity and be able to express themselves clearly, personally and effectively in the way they want.”
More authentic reproduction of human voices removes some of the stigma that can arise from the use of assistive technology for communication. In the area covering voice technology, language systems and assistive technology for communication software, there is a wealth of innovation that has not yet been realized. By working more closely together, Tobii Dynavox and Acapela Group can accelerate the pace of innovation and product development. Acapela Group’s products, incorporating high quality synthetic voices, will continue to be offered as standalone solutions to both existing and new market participants. Similarly, Tobii Dynavox will continue to offer third party products from other speech synthesis providers in its solutions.
Tobii Dynavox and Acapela Group have highly complementary core areas of expertise. Tobii Dynavox's core expertise is the development, sales and support of its clinically developed assistive technology for communication, while Acapela Group’s core expertise is speech synthesis increasingly using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques. By bringing together the expertise in these technologies, Tobii Dynavox can accelerate the development of its language systems.
Tobii Dynavox’s global sales network will open up opportunities for Acapela Group to expand internationally. In the long term, joint revenue opportunities are also expected to be realized with regards to Tobii Dynavox’s special education products and visual symbols.
“Tobii Dynavox and Acapela Group are very complementary companies with similar driving forces. Both companies have been built around exceptional products with a focus on enabling the best possible life for people with functional impairments” says Rémy Cadic, CEO of Acapela Group. “We are proud of what we have accomplished as a company and are very much looking forward to taking another exciting step in our journey, so that together with Tobii Dynavox we can accelerate our pace of product development and expansion.”
Purchase consideration, terms and conditions and timetable for the acquisition
Tobii, through its subsidiary Tobii Dynavox, has today entered into an agreement with shareholders holding more than 80% of the voting rights, to acquire all the shares in Acapela Group. The remaining shares will be acquired through a simplified offer to minority shareholders and, if necessary, a drag-along process for these. The total purchase consideration for all the shares amounts to EUR 9.8 million, including cash and debt, and will be paid in cash. Acapela Group’s net cash position as of September 30, 2021 was approximately EUR 2 million. The acquisition of Acapela Group is subject to the relevant regulatory approvals, completion of the drag-along process and other customary conditions. The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.
Invitation to conference call
A conference call with Tobii Dynavox CEO Fredrik Ruben, providing the opportunity to ask questions, will be held tomorrow, October 29, at 9.00 am CEST.
To attend the webcast, please click this link.
This information is information that Tobii AB (publ) is obliged to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation. The information was submitted, through the agency of the contact person set out below, for publication at 5.31 pm CEST, on October 28, 2021.
Henrik Mawby, Head of Investor Relations, Tobii Group, phone: +46 (0)72 219 82 15, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tobii is the global leader in eye-tracking technology and solutions, targeting application areas such as scientific studies & research, healthcare, education and training, gaming, extended reality (VR & AR), and automotive. Our mission is to build technology that understands human attention and intent for a better future — what we call attention computing. Tobii also operates Tobii Dynavox, the world's largest supplier of communication aids for individuals with disabilities. Tobii Dynavox´s solutions with hardware, software and comprehensive services enable people with disabilities to communicate and live more independent lives. Tobii’s eye-tracking equipment is used by thousands of enterprises and research institutes around the globe, including 99 of the world’s top 100 universities. Headquartered in Sweden, Tobii is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm (TOBII). For more information: www.tobii.com.