Samsung enters ultrasound market

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | December 16, 2010
The world's biggest electronics manufacturer, Samsung Electronics Co., said this week it bought a majority stake in South Korean ultrasound manufacturer Medison Co., as it aims to compete with global rivals General Electric Co. and Royal Philips Electronics in the health care market.

The purchase of 43.5 percent stake in fellow Korean company Medison is believed to be worth 300 billion won, or around $260 million, according to industry reports, although terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Samsung outbid South Korean business SK Group and tobacco firm KT&G Co. in the auction for the stake, run by Seoul-based private equity firm Consus Asset Management Co., which owned the Medison stock.

Samsung added it would purchase a 100 percent stake in Prosonic Co., a South Korean maker of ultrasound cables and transducers, also from Consus.

"The ultrasound diagnostics device segment provided a logical entry point into the health care equipment market due to technological similarities and potential synergies with Samsung's existing consumer electronics, and IT products and technologies," the Suwon, South Korea-based electronics company said in a statement.

Samsung is expected to reap nearly $15 billion in profits this year. It's the undisputed leader of the TV sector, with nearly a quarter of the world market by units sold.

In May, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee said the company was seeking new growth engines and would invest 1.2 trillion won ($1.03 billion) in health care by 2020.

Twenty-five-year-old Medison posted a 30.6 billion won, or $26.4 million, profit last year, with a Consus executive telling the Wall Street Journal it was one of the firm's "most profitable investments." It's the sixth-largest ultrasound maker, and is believed to control around 7 percent of the global ultrasound diagnostics market. The company, which started off as a venture capital firm, declared bankruptcy eight years ago when it couldn't meet its debts, and was bought by Consus in 2006.