January 17, 2003 8:06 AM PST

Sonicblue seeks a benefactor

Consumer-electronics maker Sonicblue has put up a for-sale sign.

Best known for its Rio MP3 players and ReplayTV products, Sonicblue said Friday that it is looking for a partner who might offer to buy the company, invest in it or acquire some of its assets.

The move, approved by Sonicblue's board of directors, comes as part of an effort by Sonicblue to reduce its debts, the company said in a statement.

"Sonicblue has improved its operational performance, and its new product lines are well poised for 2003," Gregory Ballard, Sonicblue's CEO, said in a statement. "The goal of this process is to clear the way for the company's businesses to continue their strong growth in the market, unburdened by the amount of debt now carried on the company's balance sheet."

Some of those new products include Rio and ReplayTV models with updated features shown at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. The company also recently launched four new ReplayTV digital video recorders, priced starting at $299, before rebates.

Sonicblue has been through some tough times of late. It has been sued over features in ReplayTV, and it fired its longtime CEO, Ken Potashner, replacing him with Ballard.

The company's stock was down about 14 percent on Friday morning, hovering around 48 cents.

Sonicblue is working with financial adviser Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin to evaluate its options.

 

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