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Steinway up for sale again?

The piano maker was sold last month to asset strippers Kohlberg & Co for a valuation estimated at $35 a share. Now an anonymous bid has come in for $38 a share. Not so anonymous, Reuters say it’s hedge fund mogul John Paulson.

So the piano firm is back, so to say, in play.

But one finance owner or another will make no difference to pianophiles. The 57th St showroom has been sold and the legend is in its death throes. Who wins the bidding way for the Steinway brand need barely concern us.


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  1. Steinway, whose factory is about a 5 minute walk from my house, has not yet been Kohlberg. From my understanding, Kohlberg tendered an offer after which there was a period in which other offers can be considered – but that period ends today, I believe. A higher bid has been offered, but Kohlberg can make an even higher counter offer if they wish, then Steinway will decide after the time runs out.

  2. Just one more thought. I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that the company is in its death throes. The company is in excellent financial shape, and that financial position is founded exclusively on the universally known quality of the product they sell, which is almost entirely crafted by hand. Only a few laser guided pieces of machinary are used where they can do much more accurate job than by hand (I’ve watched them do it.). In addition, the value of the company’s product rests on the well-known expertise of its craftsmen. So, to plunder the company would also be to devalue its own holdings.

    From radio interviews I heard this morning, Steinway craftsmen are not worried at this point. After all, the company has been bought and sold a number of times since the Steinway family left the scene and it has survived, as it did most notoriously during the 70s when it was purchased by CBS, the U.S. media conglomerate. During this time they began by taking shortcuts and replacing tried and true processes and materials with cheaper, untested substitutes and, in addition, things got very sloppy. During that time, news of Steinway’s decline in quality spread very quickly and the mantra ran, if you want to be a Steinway, buy one made in the 50s. Don’t even think of buying a new one. And, at least the people I knew, didn’t. And, things eventually improved.

    • Juergen M ecker says:

      Wow! Coming from Hamburg, Steinway’s cradle, I have never heard that CBS with its corporate ‘ raise the shareholder value’ approach not only ruined the Fender company.

  3. R. James Tobin says:

    Selling the showroom was a huge blunder. Whatever it cost to maintain it was surely worth it to maintain Steinway as a leading brand. Why would anyone want to spend a fortune acquiring it otherwise?

  4. Petros Linardos says:

    Are reports of Steinway’s imminent death a bit exaggerated? Paulson is poised to be Steinway’s fifth owner. The brand appears to have survived three other changes of ownership intact.

    Moreover, if Steinway lost its near monopoly in the classical music performance and recording world, that would not necessarily be a negative development. I am not questioning the high quality of Steinways, but it would be interesting to hear more from other piano breads as well.

  5. John Parfrey says:

    Apparently Steinway has been bought by a rich guy who loves Steinways (he personally owns three). Sounds like better news than had they been bought by Kohlberg

    Read here:

  6. Make the connection- lots of Steinways for lots of budding young piano stars in China, like the little one who in Norman’s Shanghai post stood his ground- a rising middle class family’s new prized possession if they can afford it. So, why shouldn’t Paulson, Kohlberg and other financial wheeler dealers see it as a great deal, and who knows, maybe flip it to a Chinese billionaire entrepreneur for double their money. Apart from the quality of the product and its brand, China’s rising nationalism over its ongoing Daiyou/Senkaku Islands dispute with Japan, won’t help Yamaha sales there if Steinway becomes a more aggressive presence in China.

  7. I work with a World Class Piano technician, who has been at it for 30+ years. I have also worked for a Steinway dealer who represented Steinway as a leading North American dealer for 20+years.

    There is no question that Steinway is capable of building a beautiful instrument… the problem is that you need to get luckey to get on of the good ones! To say that the company has gone through 4 Ownership changes, intact is completely false. The quality control has been a steady downward progression. As a dealer, if we brought in 10 new Steinways… 2 of them would be nice, maybe one really nice and the other 8 would need days of work by a technician before it would even be presentable on the sales floor! Ten years ago that scenario was completely reversed.

    A Steinway is only as good as the sum of its parts… and one of those parts is the craftsmanship and passion that goes into building them. Once a family owned company, the one thing that had to never be comprimised was insuring that the passion and craftsmanship got passed down to new employees and workers. This is eaier to do when it is family owned. Once that ended, Steinway slowly slipped into a comfortable (Blinders On) slide to just sitting back on its name. This latest sale of Stienway is a product of their own complacency!

    You can get lucky and get a beautiful Steinway… or you can invest similar dollars into several other brands of European handmade pianos and take LUCK out of the equation. Bechstein, Grotrian, W.Hoffmann, Bluthner, Fazioli. All of these are considered equal to and largely superior to the Steinway.

    Stop drinking the Steinway propaganda cool-aid people!!! at least open your eyes and ears to the other possibilities… you wont be disapointed.

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