ABB moves to acquire B&R

Tuesday April 04, 2017
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
ABB’s YuMi collaborative robotic system, first introduced in April 2015, aims to make work between humans and robots a reality.
ABB’s YuMi collaborative robotic system, first introduced in April 2015, aims to make work between humans and robots a reality. PHOTOS and VIDEO: ABB
Apr. 4, 2017 - ABB of Zurich, Switzerland, announced it reached an agreement to acquire Bernecker + Rainer Industrie-Elektronik GmbH (B&R) headquartered in Eggelsberg, Austria. ABB has not disclosed the purchase price of B&R, a privately held company, but the transaction will be funded in cash. The acquisition, expected to close in summer 2017, will create one of the world’s most-powerful industrial automation companies.

ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 132,000 employees. Founded in 1979, B&R employs more than 3,000 people in what is described as the US$20 billion machine and factory automation market segment. B&R has a presence in 70 countries and generated sales of more than US$600 million in its 2015/16 fiscal year. With this acquisition, ABB will become the largest industrial automation player in Austria, where B&R has operated for more than 100 years.

“B&R is a gem in the world of machine and factory automation and this combination is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This transaction marks a true milestone for ABB, as B&R will close the historic gap within ABB’s automation offering,” said Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of ABB.

ABB describes this gap as being between machine and factory automation, noting the acquisition will now pair ABB’s interests in robotics, process automation, digitalization and electrification with B&R’s products, software and systems for empowering machinery and factories. B&R provides ABB with industry leadership in Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), Industrial PCs (IPC) and servo motion-based machine and factory automation.

Spiesshofer continued to explain the acquisition fits with ABB’s “Next Level strategy” with its installed base of more than 70 million connected devices, 70,000 control systems and now more than three million automated machines and 27,000 factory installations around the world. “We enable our combined global customer base to seize the huge opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he said.

ABB states B&R has grown with a revenue CAGR of 11 per cent over the last two decades. B&R’s revenues more than quintupled since 2000 to the 2015/16 revenue mark of more than US$600. The company has a global customer base of more than 4,000 machine manufacturers.

B&R invests more than 10 percent of its sales in R&D and employs more than 1,000 people in R&D and application engineering. ABB spends US$1.5 billion annually on R&D and employs some 30,000 technologists and engineering specialists.

On closing of the transaction, B&R will become part of ABB’s Industrial Automation division as a new global business unit, Machine & Factory Automation, headed by the current Managing Director, Hans Wimmer. B&R’s headquarters in Eggelsberg will become ABB’s global centre for machine and factory automation.

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