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Bombshell in Automation – ABB to Acquire B&R

| Editor: Wolfgang Ernhofer

The fusion is shaping leadership in industrial automation, the companies said.
The fusion is shaping leadership in industrial automation, the companies said. (Bild: ABB/B&R)

Automation company ABB announced the acquisition of B&R, the largest independent provider focused on product- and software-based, open-architecture solutions for machine and factory automation worldwide.

Zurich/Switzerland; Eggelsberg/Austria – The combination will result in an unmatched, comprehensive offering for customers of industrial automation, by pairing B&R's innovative products, software and solutions for modern machine and factory automation with ABB’s world-leading offering in robotics, process automation, digitalization and electrification, the companies said.

Through the acquisition, ABB expands its leadership in industrial automation and will be uniquely positioned to seize growth opportunities resulting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In addition, ABB takes a major step in expanding its digital offering by combining its industry-leading portfolio of digital solutions, ABB Ability, with B&R's strong application and software platforms, its large installed base, customer access and tailored automation solutions.

Complementary strengths

With the acquisition, ABB will expand its industrial automation offering by integrating B&R's innovative products in PLC, Industrial PCs and servo motion as well as its software and solution suite. ABB will offer its customers a uniquely comprehensive, open-architecture automation portfolio.

B&R has grown successfully with a revenue CAGR of 11 % over the last two decades. Revenues more than quintupled since 2000 to more than $600 million (2015/16). The company has a rapidly growing global customer base of more than 4,000 machine manufacturers, a proven track record in automation software and solutions and unrivaled application expertise for customers in the machine and factory automation market segment.

Both companies have complementary portfolios. ABB is a leading provider of solutions serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure. B&R is a leading solution provider in the automation of machines and factories for industries such as plastics, packaging, food and beverage. The joint commitment to open architecture increases customer choice and flexibility facilitating connectivity in increasingly digitalized industries.

Substantial investments in innovation

Innovation is at the heart of both companies. 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 $1.5 billion annually on R&D and employs some 30,000 technologists and engineering specialists. Going forward, ABB and B&R will continue to invest considerably in R&D.

Automation of machines and factories is a key driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the IoT. ABB will continue B&R's strong solution-based business model and build on its deep domain expertise to develop new software-based services and solutions for end-to-end digitalization. ABB’s industry-leading digital offering, ABB Ability, will now capitalize on the large installed base, application and solution know-how, simulation software expertise and advanced engineering tools of B&R.

Proven integration approach

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. Both companies consider B&R's management and employees as a key driver of future growth and the business integration together with their counterparts from ABB. The co-founders of B&R, Erwin Bernecker and Josef Rainer, will act as advisors during the integration phase to ensure continuity.

The integration will be growth-focused and live by the “best-of-both-worlds” principle, with ABB adding its own PLC and servo drive activities to the offering of the new business unit in a phased approach. ABB underlines its clear commitment to continuing the B&R growth story by articulating a mid-term sales ambition to exceed $1 billion.

ABB is committed to further investing in the expansion of B&R’s operations and to building on the company’s successful business model and brand. B&R's headquarters in Eggelsberg will become ABB’s global center for machine and factory automation.

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