When we were in Marshalltown, Iowa last month for an Emerson event, it was mentioned that CEO David Farr was in London negotiating an acquisition. That set off a minor round of speculation, except the target (public knowledge at the time) was Chloride Group PLC–a manufacturer of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). Well, it seems another company on the acqisition trail stepped in and picked it up. Chloride board agrees to recommend ABB’s all-cash offer of approximately 860 million pounds.

By the time I awoke to the news in Los Angeles, the conference call was history. From the release, ABB states the purpose of the acquisition is to establish a leading presence in and help to meet the growing demand for uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).

The boards of directors of both companies have agreed on a recommended offer price of 325 pence per share. The offer price values the business at approximately 860 million pounds. Chloride shareholders will also be entitled to receive a final dividend of 3.3 pence per share as proposed on 24 May 2010. The acquisition is subject to approval by Chloride shareholders, the UK High Court and certain regulatory authorities.

“The combination of Chloride’s strong position in the fast-growing medium- to high-power UPS business with ABB’s global reach and complementary power and automation offering provides significant growth opportunities for both businesses,” said Joe Hogan, ABB’s CEO. “The transaction is in line with our strategy to acquire companies especially in areas where demand is converging across both of these businesses.”

Chloride’s UPS offering is used in applications where power quality and security are critically important. This includes ABB’s traditional utilities and industrial customer base such as the oil, gas, and petrochemicals industry as well as new sectors in service industries such as data centers, financial institutions, hospitals and airports. The company has a strong service offering and a significant installed base.

Chloride would be integrated into ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division. “Chloride‘s strength in UPS solutions and ABB’s existing offering will provide customers with a very attractive package to ensure power quality and critical power supply. Chloride would become the global center for UPS within ABB,” said Ulrich Spiesshofer, head of the Discrete Automation and Motion division.

ABB’s power and automation offering for UPS customers includes drives, high- and medium-voltage switchgear, transformers, as well as low-voltage products and systems. With the integration of Chloride, ABB would be able to offer a broad package of power quality, security and related service solutions.

ABB is being advised by Credit Suisse.

Chloride Group PLC is based in London, employs about 2,500 people and reported revenue of 336 million pounds in its fiscal year ended March 31, 2010. Shares in the company are traded on the London Stock Exchange. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 117,000 people

I have talked with some other editors from the automation space who also noticed at last month’s ABB Power and Automation World conference that automation was definitely relegated behind power in attention. This acquisition solidifies that observation. Of course, while there is still money to be made in automation, huge sums are about to be spent in the United States to upgrade the electric grid–as well in much of the world. ABB’s in an excellent position to pick up much of that spending. Definitely a huge growth opportunity for the next ten years or so.

Share This