Another uptick for the economy...

In a sign that not everything is stone cold dead in the economy, ABB's indefatigable Laura Patrick sends us this press release:

ABB acquires full ownership of Finnish joint venture

Investment will strengthen position in the Nordic low voltage business

Zurich, Switzerland, January 8, 2009 – ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has agreed to acquire all interests in the Finnish joint venture, Ensto Busch-Jaeger Oy, from Ensto Oy, subject to the customary regulatory approvals.

ABB owns a 21-percent stake in the joint venture, and has agreed to take over the 79-percent stake of the business owned by the privately held Ensto Group for an undisclosed amount. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter 2009.

Ensto Busch-Jaeger was formed 28 years ago by ABB subsidiary Busch-Jaeger Elektro of Germany and the Ensto Group of Finland to produce high-quality wiring accessories and installation material such as light switches and sockets for the Nordic residential and commercial building markets.

The business employs about 120 employees and is based in Porvoo, Finland, with business activities in Sweden and Norway. It will be part of ABB’s Automation Products division. In 2007, Ensto Busch-Jaeger had revenues of about $55 million.

"This investment is fully in line with our strategy to broaden our market scope with value creating acquisitions," said Tom Sjoekvist, head of the Automation Products division. "Building on our existing long-term relationship, ABB is ideally positioned to further grow Ensto Busch-Jaeger’s portfolio of high-quality products in the Nordic markets, and to better cover the markets and serve customer demand." Sjoekvist added.

Of course with the amount of cash ABB has laying around, they don't have the same reliance on credit from investment bankers that other companies might, but this is still a pretty hopeful sign. We can all start watching the M&A marketplace (see the article in the December 2008 Control) because it is a harbinger of things to come with the automation industry.

End users are probably not used to spending time reading the Mergers page...but it is important. Mergers that happen quickly, for good strategic reasons (new products, better alignment of customers, etc.) instead of those that happen to try to stave off bankruptcy, are a sign that there is industry activity...which means that there is process automation industry money available to the vendors, because that's what fuels mergers.

In this new era, automation professionals also have to know what the money does, and where it is going.