Schneider Electric Expands Industrial Software Presence

Schneider Electric LogoOK, so I was wrong. Well, I was right and wrong.

My analysis of the Schneider acquisition of Invensys (Foxboro, Wonderware, et. al.) centered on European competition. Namely that as Schneider assembled a large industrial technology powerhouse it was looking at Siemens and ABB—its next-door rivals.

Schneider was already a competitor in the electrical power industry. Acquiring the process automation technologies business with Invensys brought it into more complete competition with ABB.

Software

On the other hand, I thought that Schneider might divest the software business partly because it never really had very much in the way of software.

OK, I was wrong.

Schneider announced last week that “it has reached a preliminary, non-binding agreement with AVEVA Group PLC (“AVEVA”) on the key terms and conditions of a combination of selected Schneider Electric industrial software assets and AVEVA (forming the “Enlarged AVEVA Group”).

On the surface this appears to be a strange marriage. In fact, my friend Walt Boyes did an anti-Schneider rant on his blog this morning. Amongst the rumors he alluded to about Schneider management and how Clayton Christensen’s analysis of acquisitions predicted that the acquisition would go south, he also misunderstood, I think, the implications of this move.

AVEVA is a construction engineering software company. It provides the front-end engineering for plants that Foxboro, Triconix, Avantis, and other ex-Invensys brands operate and maintain.

Design to operate

The upshot is that Schneider should be able to provide an end-to-end solution for process industries similar to what Siemens has done for discrete manufacturing with the integration of UGS and the Siemens PLM division.

By the way, this latter is an example of how a large company can beneficially absorb an acquisition. The merger has worked very well. Other European companies have closely watched this acquisition model. I believe that Schneider will have learned from it.

I wonder what implications for the OpenO&M Initiative and the OGI Pilot program—an ongoing effort to use standards to move data from the engineering design database to the operations & maintenance database. AVEVA was a key player.

Transaction details

It is expected that the proposed transaction would:
1. create a global leader in industrial software, with a unique portfolio of asset management solutions from design & build to operations, with both scale and a distinct market position to address critical customer requirements along the full asset life cycle in key industrial and infrastructure markets;
2. unlock additional value at enlarged AVEVA and Schneider Electric through the potential for material revenue and costs synergies, leveraging on complementary end-markets exposures, customer bases and product portfolios;
3. establish a ‘best in class’ management team and increased brand profile for attracting further talent; and
4. realize the full value of the contributed industrial software assets.

The enlarged AVEVA would have combined revenues and Adjusted EBITA of c. £534 million and c. £130 million, respectively. It is expected that the Enlarged AVEVA Group will continue to be admitted to listing on the Official List of the UK Listing Authority and to trade on the London Stock Exchange plc’s main market for listed securities.  Schneider Electric intends to comply with the Listing Rules of the UKLA. As part of the transaction, Schneider Electric would contribute a selection of its industrial software assets to AVEVA and make a cash payment of £550m to AVEVA, (which would subsequently be distributed to AVEVA shareholders excluding Schneider Electric) in exchange for the issuance of new AVEVA shares, giving Schneider Electric a majority stake of 53.5% in the Enlarged AVEVA Group on a fully-diluted basis. Schneider Electric would fully consolidate the business in its Group financials.

In addition to any consultation procedures involving the personnel’s representative bodies that may be required, the transaction remains subject to, amongst other things, the completion of mutual due diligence to the satisfaction of both parties, agreement on the terms of legal documentation, the approval of the respective Boards of Schneider Electric and AVEVA, AVEVA shareholder approval and relevant anti-trust and regulatory approvals (if required). In accordance with the applicable law and regulation of the United Kingdom, a more detailed public announcement has been released today and is available on the AVEVA and Schneider Electric websites as well as on the AMF (French regulatory authority) website.

A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.

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