Invensys Takeover?

Speaking to the London Sunday Times shortly after the publication of the company's interim trading statement for the third quarter, Invensys CEO Ulf Henriksson said the company was a technology-led outfit that provides its customers with advice and answers to their problems rather than being driven by having to sell products, which may have surprised some of the those at the coal face in Invensys Operations Management (IOM). Positioned between the likes of Siemens and ABB, which make high-tech kit, and Accenture and IBM, which provide management advice to their clients, he said he saw Invensys as being in a sweet spot which other groups are clambering to occupy and is ready to start buying companies that will help it move to this middle ground.

Henriksson didn't deny the possibility of a hostile bid for the company, observing that "You have to be aware of it … The important thing is to have a share price that values the company properly, so that if a bid does emerge you can get the right price." He said that he had been much more concerned when the share price had been half its current value when there had been the opportunity for someone to "get us on the cheap."

The Sunday Times article appeared just a day before Frost & Sullivan published its own interview with IOM president and CEO Sudipta Bhattacharya in which he argued that the Invensys business model allows it to move faster than its competitors because it is less dependent on hardware products alone. "It is difficult for them to have an open architecture because there is the potential to cannibalize their own business model. That's not what happens with us. We are confident that if we execute well, we will be ahead of the pack."

Claiming a lead over the competition with ArchestrA and InFusion, he suggested "If someone wanted to launch or build similar products, it would take them probably three to four years to get them to market."

Later in the interview, and perhaps seeking to row back from any impression that IOM is now entirely focussed on software, he stressed that control and safety were core to the business and accounted for 60% of all development work. "The key issue is that we will build an additional layer of differentiation on the top of it, which our industry has not been able to do … The world has moved away from saying 'here is hardware and here is software'—they are tightly integrated … perhaps, not all of our competition recognizes that."

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