The drawn-out bidding process is due to Austrians' unwillingness to see the national icon fall under foreign ownership. Brodmann had pledged an "all-Austrian" future for B‹sendorfer, which, prior to 2002, had been owned by the Kimball piano company of the U.S. for 36 years. Nearly sold five years ago to guitar manufacturer Gibson USA, B‹sendorfer was instead purchased by the Viennese bank BAWAG (which is now owned by the American private equity group Cerberus).
B‹sendorfer's founder, Ignaz B‹sendorfer, was a former apprentice to Josef Brodmann before founding his own firm in 1828.
Yamaha's offer was made more attractive through an assurance that they would not change the brand and that B‹sendorfer's production staff would stay in Austria. Yamaha mainly wants to apply B‹sendorfer's crafting methods to its own instruments in Japan.
B‹sendorfer sells 200 piano annually and has accumulated €8 million in debt. Known for a mellow and sweet sound, its pianos fill a specialized high-end niche as alternatives to Steinway and Yamaha instruments. Its famous Imperial concert grand is almost ten feet long and was first built around 1900 on Ferruccio Busoni's suggestion; with an eight-octave span (97 keys), it has served as the inspiration for piano works by Bart‹k, Debussy and Frank Martin.