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Selmer Paris being sold

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
SOTW link since I can't find an English translation of the story yet.

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EDIT by Pete: I can!

From Selmer.fr:

PRESS RELEASE

The World Saxophone Leader, Henri SELMER Paris, Is in Exclusive Negotiation with Argos Soditic, For a Change in Ownership

France, Mantes-la-Ville and Paris - January 10th, 2018 – The shareholders of Henri SELMER Paris, a family-owned company founded in 1885, world leader in the manufacturing of high-end saxophones, and major player in clarinets and mouthpieces, have entered into exclusive negotiations for an equity investment by the growth- oriented private equity funds managed by Argos Soditic.

Upon completion of this transaction, Argos Soditic would become the majority shareholder alongside some family members, and the management team. Jérôme Selmer, Chief Executive Officer of Henri SELMER Paris, will lead this new phase of development. The employees, who carry the heritage of excellence of the brand, would also have the possibility to invest in the company’s shares.

Argos Soditic will carry out the investment without raising debt. Henri SELMER Paris will thus keep all its flexibility to invest in new projects and continue to serve the finest international instrumentalists, as well as enthusiastic amateurs.

Sustain and develop the company

This transaction is initiated and supported by the 55 shareholders representing the 4th and 5th generation of the Selmer family, all of them being descendants of Henri Selmer, the company’s founder.

Jérôme Selmer, the founder’s great-grandson who joined the company in 1982 and has held several positions including 25 years as head of research and development, was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2017 and highlights that « with Argos Soditic, we will be stronger and more agile to further strengthen our leadership position. Our aim is to continue our transformation and growth, with our skilled employees and distributors, in order to meet the expectations of a growing and international customer base. »

Brigitte Selmer, Chief Executive Officer 2010 to 2017, who represents the interests of the family shareholders, added that « our choice to enter exclusive negotiations with Argos Soditic is driven by our wish to have a powerful and trustworthy shareholder, who will continue to expand the Henri Selmer Paris brand worldwide. Argos Soditic is committed to developing the production of our outstanding instruments, coming from a high-end handicraft, and has the capacity to finance new development projects. »

Louis Godron, partner at Argos Soditic, said: « It is a great honour for us to be in exclusive negotiations with Henri SELMER Paris, an iconic brand in the field of music, which benefits from a “Made in France” know-how and from a world-class reputation. We are convinced of the growth potential of this manufacturing company in the context of reinforced competition on international markets. »

A unique manufacturing know-how

In its 11.000 square meter facility in Mantes-la-Ville in the Paris area, Henri SELMER Paris manufactures high-end saxophones, clarinets and mouthpieces which require highly skilled labour with more than 100 manufacturing specialities. A saxophone is made of more than 700 pieces, and requires more than 2,000 operations to be manufactured, from the special copper-alloy plate to the finished instrument.

This handicraft know-how, traditional and unique, coupled with the capacity of innovation and the use of cutting-edge technologies (and several millions USD invested in R&D every year) are the backbone of the world-class reputation of Selmer instruments, whose sound is recognized by experienced musicians.

Distinguished musicians such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Stan Getz played « Selmer » and their current successors continue to favour these outstanding instruments, alongside passionate amateurs such as former President of the United States Bill Clinton who brought a « Selmer » into the White House.

With its new range of high-quality clarinets, Henri SELMER Paris will intensify its efforts to grow vigorously in this segment.

In 2014, a new brand for saxophones and clarinets named SeleS has been launched to enlarge the customer base, in particular towards non-professional musicians, students at conservatories of music and music teachers.

A very strong international footprint

Henri SELMER Paris employs 500 people and had USD 40 million of revenues in 2017.

Henri SELMER Paris is present in more than 60 countries, with only 13% of sales in its home country; it sells to a variety of distributors and merchants directly in touch with musicians. Half of sales are in Asia, with strong positions in Japan and in China where the company benefits from the development of this market.

Press Contact Antoinette Darpy – toBnext Communication Agency + 33 (0)6 72 95 07 92 – adarpy@tobnext.com

About Henri SELMER Paris
Manufacturer of clarinets at its foundation in 1885, Henri SELMER Paris launched the production of saxophones as early as 1921, before taking over the workshop of Adolphe Sax in 1929, thus becoming the universal legatee of the invention of the saxophone. Henri SELMER Paris is today the global leader in the manufacture of high-end saxophones and a major player in clarinets and mouthpieces. Its instruments benefit from a prestigious brand all around the world. The most talented musicians play “Selmer” (Saxophone: Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Branford Marsalis, Claude Delangle…; Clarinet: Alessandro Carbonare, Philippe Berrod…). 


About Argos Soditic
Argos Soditic is an independent private-equity group with offices in Brussels, Frankfurt, Geneva, Milan and Paris. Since its creation in 1989, the group has invested in more than 70 mid-sized companies (Enterprise Value ranging from 25 to 200 million euros). Its majority ownership investments range between 10 and 100 million euros. With 1.1 billion USD under management, the group develops a unique investment strategy on complex transactions focused on transformation and growth as opposed to leverage. Its entrepreneurial approach is characterized by close proximity with the management teams and by a strong support to implement their strategic projects.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

TrueTone

College Student who likes wind instruments & music
Well I'll watch this closely...not too sure I'm gonna like where this leads...
In other news of this, it might make other people richer when selling their Selmers, and make me very unlikely to afford them.
I wonder what Mark VIs will go for if they start doing worse? (also how that model of Sax is likely related to the reason this happened, one of their main competitors is them, 50+ years ago.)
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
I'm not sure it's going to make any difference one way or the other actually. Lacking the ability to read French the nuances of the language make it impossible to understand 100% via translations. Relying on someone else's translation can also be suspect, and is dependent on their frame of reference. It is unfortunate that Selmer did not issue a press release in French in English outlining the facts of what transpired.
 

TrueTone

College Student who likes wind instruments & music
I'm not sure it's going to make any difference one way or the other actually. Lacking the ability to read French the nuances of the language make it impossible to understand 100% via translations. Relying on someone else's translation can also be suspect, and is dependent on their frame of reference. It is unfortunate that Selmer did not issue a press release in French in English outlining the facts of what transpired.
There's one on selmer.fr now.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
In honor of the new ownership, a tenor with special Vulture engraving will be offered in 2019.
Now, that's a joke that you'd need some knowledge of Selmer to understand. Very well played.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Lacking the ability to read French the nuances of the language make it impossible to understand 100% via translations.
I copied and pasted the doc from Selmer.fr into the first post. It's much longer than the initial announcement, so it's probably got the detail you want.

I wonder what Mark VIs will go for if they start doing worse? (also how that model of Sax is likely related to the reason this happened, one of their main competitors is them, 50+ years ago.)
Sounds like it's not a done deal, yet.

The last big-name company to get swallowed up was Buffet. Their quality hasn't suffered, as far as I'm aware.

If I still played, I don't know if I'd even go after a VI. I might go for a Reference or something like that. I haven't had sufficient experience to convince me that a Mark VI -- or any vintage horn, for that matter -- is better than new horns from Yani, Yamaha, Buffet, etc. However, if the deal goes through and Selmer kills off all their pro models in favor of their Taiwanese horns, I'd definitely say that folks would go for a Reference, Serie III or earlier horn. That'll also drive prices up. In other words, if you're thinking about buying a Selmer horn, you might want to do it quick.
 
I suspect Selmer is going through what many older family-owned businesses encounter. A lot of people who inherited shares want to cash in.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
E-mail from Jérôme Selmer:

Dear Friend of Henri Selmer Paris,

Today is a special day for our company and its community, of which you are a prominent member.

130 years after its foundation our company has announced that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with a European growth-oriented private equity fund, Argos Soditic, for a change in ownership.

This is great news for our future, and we wanted to share this directly with you.

This transaction will help us to develop the company and maintain the extraordinary spirit of our products. With the support and strength of Argos, we will have additional resources to help us transform the business while maintaining the highest standards in our industry. We will become stronger to face the growing international demand, and better meet the expectations of our customers.

I will stay in office along with the management team. The objective to remain the unchallenged leader of saxophones and a major player of mouthpieces is shared with Argos along with the determination to strengthen our position in clarinets through our great new range.

As a sign of confidence in the future, some members of the Selmer family will remain shareholders, and the management team will invest along with Argos.

I’m pleased to send you attached the press release that we are sending out today. Today is going to be a very busy day, but I’m more than happy to provide you with more details if you wish.

Let me extend my thanks for your trust and recognition, and wish you all the best for 2018.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
A sale is not necessarily a bad thing. Buffet was bought out and they released a pro-level saxophone after a couple years (Senzo) and they have several pro-level clarinet models. They also have that line of Taiwanese horns (400).

Personally, I think that the Serie II and III don't give you enough bang for the buck. For a lacquer alto, the Serie II is $6759 and Serie III is $7549. You can buy a sterling silver Yani AWO33 for $6619. You can get an AWO37 in Japan for around $7500. The Yamaha 875 and 82Z in black lacquer (that's what they have on WWBW.com) are $4204.

While I do think that the Selmer 44 model was a step in the right direction, $3000 is way too much. Essentially the same argument and the same price with the SeleS. You can buy a Yani A-WO1 or Yamaha 62III for about the same price and they're real pro horns.

FWIW, the nicest looking, cheap Mark VI alto I saw sold on eBay is this 1975 horn for about $3500. Best 5-digit horn? This one for $5800. $3500 buys you a lacquer Yani A-WO1 (and $100 for your pocket) and $5800 buys you an A-WO20 (and $700 for your pocket).
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
FWIW, the nicest looking, cheap Mark VI alto I saw sold on eBay is this 1975 horn for about $3500. Best 5-digit horn? This one for $5800. $3500 buys you a lacquer Yani A-WO1 (and $100 for your pocket) and $5800 buys you an A-WO20 (and $700 for your pocket).
Here's the thing though, Yanis and Yamahas are nice and all, but they don't sound like a good Mark VI. Yes, there are some dogs of VIs out there. But here's the thing, if you have ever played a really great one--and I do mean great one--you will not switch. I have 2 great VIs: my tenor and my bari. My alto and my soprano? I don't play those horns enough to know if they are truly great, or just really nice and minty.

I believe--therefore this is rather subjective, since I can't back it up by scientific fact--that many of the great VIs don't end up for sale. Players simply don't part with them. They play them all their lives. After their death, the horns may end up in the marketplace where they end up being scooped up by a buyer. If they are a truly great horn, then they likely won't appear for sale again--unless it was bought as an investment of course, but that's a whole other discussion.

Since I have, or have at least played, horns from all the major sax makers out there (both vintage and modern), I state this unequivocally: As a player, there is simply something about a truly great VI that you can not only hear in the tone, but also feel under your fingers. While modern (and even some vintage) horns may come close, I have yet to find one that puts it all together in one package like a great Mark VI does. Even modern Selmers are sadly not the same--although Jim's Reference 36 tenor was as close to a great Mark VI as I've ever played.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I believe--therefore this is rather subjective, since I can't back it up by scientific fact--that many of the great VIs don't end up for sale. Players simply don't part with them.
I tend to agree with you and that's oddly because of Yanagisawa.

Yani had a model called the 6. The 6 series of horns are Mark VI copies. They're arguably pretty decent copies for soprano, tenor, and bari ... but it's next to impossible to come by an A-6, even though Yani made a lot of them.

I've mentioned before that the only horn that I've ever thought I was unworthy of was a Conn 30M. I've played maybe 6 to 12 Mark VIs in various pitches and I thought all were really good horns. I especially liked the VI bari I played, but I could get a very similar tone on a Buescher True-Tone. However, neither the TT or VI had a low A, so I didn't heavily consider buying them -- and I didn't like the keywork on the TT.

I'm trying to remember back to horns I haven't played in a long time, so YMMV. I think that what a modern horn, like my old Yamaha 52 bari and my wife's Selmer USA Omega alto, is missing is a bit of richness or complication to the tone. That Conn 30M had it in abundance. I think the VI bari might have been better with something other than my Rascher mouthpiece. My wife wanted a horn that was a bit brighter, thus the Omega. My YBS-52 will never be thought of as dark. However, the Yamaha 855 and 875 might be. I'm 100% certain that folks with Wood Stone Yamaha or Inderbinen horns will say their horns have a rich and complex tone, though.

*Sigh* I need to test some more modern horns. Helen & Jim, can I raid the WF coffers to come out and visit?
 
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