Power and automation technology group ABB (NYSE: ABB) and Thomas & Betts Corporation (NYSE: TNB), a North American supplier of low voltage products, announced that both companies’ boards of directors have agreed to a transaction in which ABB will acquire Thomas & Betts for $72 per share in cash or approximately $3.9 billion.
The companies contend that the complementary combination of Thomas & Betts’ electrical components and ABB’s low-voltage protection, control and measurement products will create a broad low voltage portfolio that can be distributed through Thomas & Betts’ network of more than 6,000 distributor locations and wholesalers in North America, and through ABB’s established distribution channels in Europe and Asia.
The combined product portfolio and enhanced distribution network will enable ABB to double its addressable market in North America to approximately $24 billion, according to a press release. “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."
“Strategically, it’s a great fit,” Hogan added. “This is another big step toward our goal of expanding our presence in the key North American market. The transaction clearly supports our 2015 growth and profitability targets, and meets all of our return-on-investment criteria for creating shareholder value.”
The acquisition price represents a 24 percent premium to Thomas & Betts’ closing stock price on Jan. 27, 2012 and a 35 percent premium to the volume weighted average stock price over the past 60 trading days. 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.
“This transaction delivers significant value to our shareholders and will enable Thomas & Betts to accelerate our global growth strategy,” said Thomas & Betts Chairman and 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, 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.
Thomas & Betts employs approximately 9,400 people and is estimated to report 2011 revenues of approximately $2.3 billion and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of approximately $390 million. 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. 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.
ABB has secured a $4 billion, fully underwritten bridge financing commitment from Bank of America Merrill Lynch which will be repaid through a combination of cash and the issuance of debt. The transaction is expected to be accretive within the first year after it closes prior to one-time charges and implementation costs. ABB expects the transaction will deliver approximately $200 million in annual synergies by 2016. The majority of cost synergies are expected to come from sourcing and purchasing efficiencies.
“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.”
“ABB and Thomas & Betts share a common culture. We admire the in-depth industry expertise and enthusiasm of the Thomas & Betts team and their excellent long-term relationship with distributors and wholesalers,” Mehta said. “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. Closure of the transaction is also conditioned on customary regulatory approvals, including in both North America and Europe.