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ABB to Acquire Thomas & Betts for $3.9B

ABB's acquisition of Thomas & Betts is a big step toward manufacturer's goal of expanding its presence in North America.

Switzerland-based ABB (NYSE: ABB), power and automation technology group, has agreed to acquire Thomas & Betts Corp. (NYSE: TNB), Memphis, TN, a manufacturer of low voltage products, for $3.9 billion.

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The transaction is subject to approval by Thomas & Betts shareholders as well as to customary regulatory approvals, and is expected to close by the middle of 2012.

The acquisition doubles ABB’s “addressable market” in North America to $24 billion.

The complementary combination of Thomas & Betts’ electrical components and ABB’s low-voltage protection, control and measurement products would create a broader low voltage portfolio that can be distributed through Thomas & Betts’ network of more than 6,000 distributor locations and wholesalers in North America, according to a news release, and through ABB’s distribution channels in Europe and Asia.

“Thomas & Betts is a well-run company with strong brands and excellent distribution channels in the world’s largest low-voltage products market,” said Joe Hogan, ABB’s CEO. “Because our products are complementary, we’ll go to market with one of the broadest offerings in the industry. That creates strong growth opportunities for both ABB and Thomas & Betts, and gives customers and distributors one-stop access to one of the widest ranges of low voltage products.”

The move is a step toward ABB’s goal of expanding its presence in North America.

Thomas & Betts, combined with ABB’s North American low-voltage products business, will become a new global business unit led out of Memphis, TN, under the leadership of Pileggi.

“This transaction delivers significant value to our shareholders and will enable Thomas & Betts to accelerate our global growth strategy,” said Thomas & Betts CEO Dominic J. Pileggi. “The combination will also enable us to provide our North American customers and distributor network with a broader portfolio of products and will provide long-term opportunities to our employees. This is the right time for this transaction and I believe strongly that ABB is the right partner for our business going forward.”

Thomas & Betts reported 2011 revenues of $2.3 billion. Its main business is the manufacture of low-voltage and ultralow-voltage electrical products such as connectors, conduits and fittings as well as wiring management products for the construction, industrial and utilities markets. These are complementary to the offering of ABB’s Low Voltage Products division, which includes products such as breakers and switches. Thomas & Betts also supplies towers for electrical power transmission and has a business that produces heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, both new to ABB but related to its core power and automation focus.

“This is a unique opportunity for ABB to grow in the largely untapped North American low-voltage products market,” said Tarak Mehta, Executive Committee member responsible for ABB’s Low Voltage Products division, into which Thomas & Betts will be integrated as a stand-alone unit. “We plan to keep and build on Thomas & Betts’ strong brand and product names. We have complementary products that can be sold together already today and other products that will take some time to introduce to customers.

“… We will continue Thomas & Betts’ successful business model with its distribution, wholesalers and OEM customers, and the Thomas & Betts executive team will lead and drive the successful development of the new business unit.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the transaction is structured as a merger requiring approval of a majority of Thomas & Betts shareholders at a special meeting, which is expected to take place in the second quarter.

ABB’s North American operations, headquartered in Cary, NC, employ over 18,000 people in multiple manufacturing, service and other major facilities and reported $5 billion in revenue for the first nine months of 2011.
 

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