ABB buys GE business for $2.6 billion on bet it can boost margins
Power grids maker ABB is buying General Electric’s Industrial Solutions business for 2.6 billion US dollars on a bet that it can improve lackluster margins at the unit over the next five years, the Swiss engineering company said on Monday.
Zurich-based ABB sees potential for cost synergies of 200 million US dollars annually after five years with the deal, which includes terms for long-term use of GE’s brand.
In 2016, Industrial Solutions had sales of about 2.7 billion US dollars, with an operating margin of some 8 percent.
ABB is wagering on being able to cut costs and boost profitability at the Georgia-based GE business, whose operating earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITA) as a percentage of sales is only about half the 15 percent of ABB’s comparable Electrification Products division.
Initially, combining with GE’s unit will reduce Electrification Products’ margins to below ABB’s target of 15-19 percent, although ABB aims to return to that level by 2020, it said.
“Together with the GE Industrial Solutions team, we will execute our well-established plans in a disciplined way to bring this business as part of the global ABB family back to peer performance,” ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a statement.
Products made by the GE unit include circuit breakers, switchgear and power supply equipment used for facilities including data centers.
GE had resumed negotiations to sell the business to ABB after the US industrial conglomerate moderated its price expectations, people familiar with the matter told Reuters in August.