Industrials sector comment – November 2010


The prospect of further M&A activity in the industrials space was fuelled this month by the re-awakening of the acquisition programme at GE.

The bellwether of the US economy and industrial sentiment in general has announced that it intends to spend $30bn on acquisitions in the next two or three years. It has immediately put the plan into action with the $3bn acquisition of Dresser Inc, the US manufacturer of flow products, generators and instrumentation for the fuel handling, oil and gas and power generation industries. GE already has expertise in power-generation engines through its Jenbacher subsidiary which, combined with Dresser, will be able to offer low-emissions, fuel-flexible mechanical-drive technology for gas-engine applications in the manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, petrochemical and power-generation industries.

This deal follows on from GE’s earlier acquisition of Calnetix Power Solutions Inc, a US developer of small-scale, waste heat to power projects. Calnetix focuses on the recovery of waste heat from industrial processes for the generation of electricity. The Calnetix purchase itself builds on its previous announced purchase of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc’s Energy Control Systems division which focuses on the development of control software and network management equipment for the monitoring and analysis of the whole power supply chain.

In the same period, GE has been spurned three times by Wellstream Holdings plc, the manufacturer of flexible pipelines for the oil and gas industry. GE’s most recent offer values the UK group at £755m and it remains to be seen whether an agreement can be reached on an acceptable value or whether an alternative purchaser such as National Oilwell Varco Inc will enter the frame. Meanwhile, GE continues to search for follow on acquisitions that will allow it to rapidly develop its infrastructure and industrial operations with a particular focus on deals in aviation, energy, healthcare, oil and gas and transportation.

Deal News

Petainer Ltd has acquired two Rostiprimpac PET container businesses from AP Moller Maersk AS. The transaction includes PET container plants in Norrkoping Sweden and Leinefelde, Germany which will enhance the UK group’s existing Continental European operations in the Czech Republic and Sweden.

Thomas & Betts Corp has acquired Cable Management Group Ltd (CMG), a UK manufacturer of cable protection products used to protect critical power and data systems. CMG’s products include metallic and non-metallic flexible conduit and fitting systems under the Adaptaflex, Harnessflex and Kopex brand names. The US group’s £70m acquisition of CMG, together with its acquisition of Swiss cable protection systems manufacturer PMA AG earlier this year, will expand its presence in Europe and reinforce its product offering for the heavy vehicle, infrastructure, mining, oil and gas, petrochemical and railway industries.

Babcock International Group plc has acquired the Evergreen Unmanned Systems (EUS) division of Evergreen International Aviation Inc. EUS is a US provider of logistics, operations, payload integration, testing and training services for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The acquisition has been completed by subsidiary VT Group plc which will extend its aviation support capabilities from fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and missile systems into the rapidly-growing UAV market.

Nampak Ltd has acquired FourFourTwo Ltd, a UK manufacturer of milk and juice bottles in high density polyethylene (HDPE). The acquisition has been completed by the South African group’s subsidiary Nampak Europe Ltd which will reinforce its position in the supply of recycled HDPE bottles to dairy processors and juice manufacturers.

Pressure Technologies plc has acquired Hydratron Ltd, a UK manufacturer of high pressure equipment for the oil and gas industry. Hydraton’s products include control panels, manifolds, pumps and valves which will complement Pressure Technologies’ range of high pressure cylinders for industrial applications. The £3.3m acquisition includes Hydraton’s operations in Australia and the USA.

Konecranes Oy has acquired Machine Control Engineers Ltd (MCE), a UK provider of maintenance services for machine tools in the engineering industry. MCE specialises in mechanical and electrical maintenance and control systems for customers across North England and Scotland and will be integrated into the Finnish group’s Machine Tool Service division.

Cooper Industries Inc has acquired Mount Engineering plc, a UK manufacturer of actuators, fittings and valves for the mining, oil and gas, petrochemical, process and water industries. The £19.2m acquisition of Mount Engineering’s Hi-Flow Valves, Raxton and Redapt operations will boost Cooper’s presence in the oil and gas industry and strengthen the group’s specialist manufacturing capabilities for high hazard products.

Spectris plc has acquired N-TRON Corp, a US manufacturer of rugged industrial networking components. N-TRON’s products include Ethernet switches and associated components for the industrial, infrastructure and power generation markets. The £32m acquisition will be integrated into Spectris’ Industrial Controls division and will operate in close co-operation with Red Lion Controls which is a supplier of operator interface products in industrial applications.

ManTech International Corp has acquired the North American Security and Intelligence Solutions (S&IS) division of QinetiQ plc for £38m. S&IS is a provider of integrated security management for the US government which was acquired by QinetiQ as part of its March 2007 acquisition of Analex Corp.

South Staffordshire plc has acquired Omega Red Ltd, a UK supplier of electrical earthing and lightning protection systems. Omega Red specialises in the design, installation and maintenance services for earthing and lightening protection equipment for the construction, power generation, railway, renewable energy and telecommunications industries and will complement South Staffordshire’s existing range of services for Government Agencies, infrastructure operators, Local Authorities, sewage utilities and water companies.

Cobham plc has sold French subsidiary Satori SA to a management buy-out for £7m. Satori is a provider of aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul services. The disposal is part of Cobham’s strategy of focusing on its larger scale operations and technically differentiated products in its existing higher growth markets.

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