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Sonova subsidiary signs liability settlement

Sonova CEO Lukas Braunschweiler says fewer than ten cases remain pending Keystone

Advanced Bionics, the United States subsidiary of Swiss hearing aid maker Sonova, has signed settlement agreements covering the majority of liability claims related to defective ear implants.

The terms of the settlements reached on Monday were not disclosed.

Last year, Sonova increased its provisions for claims from CHF198 million ($219 million) to CHF250 million, affecting its results for the 2012-13 financial year.

The provisions cover the costs of existing and expected future claims, the company  said at the time.

CEO Lukas Braunschweiler said on Monday fewer than ten cases remain pending and that the company should be able to handle the financial responsibilities easily. “We are well within the provision made,” he added.

The settlements resolve most of the current claims against Advanced Bionics, which voluntarily recalled a batch of its cochlear ear implants in 2006.

The settlement also includes the results of a trial which was completed earlier this year in Kentucky but was the subject of a post-trial motion and a potential appeal, it said.

Sonova, which traces its Zurich roots back to 1947, acquired Advanced Bionics in 2009.

The company was renamed Phonak in 1985 and went public nine years later. In 2007, the group was renamed Sonova with sales hitting CHF1 billion – Phonak remains as a brand name for some products.

It employs some 6,850 staff and is active in 90 countries, making hearing aids for adults and children.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR