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Swiss engineering group ABB is expanding its robotics and industrial automation portfolio by acquiring B&R, an independent Austrian provider, for an undisclosed sum.

B&R has annual sales of about $600m. It was founded in 1979 and employs 3,000.

Ulrich Spiesshofer, chief executive, is under pressure to boost performance at the sprawling ABB conglomerate. Last year he poached a Siemens executive, Sami Atiya, to head the division that includes robots.

On Tuesday he said the B&R deal was “a perfect fit” would make allow ABB to offer “the entire spectrum of technology and software solutions around measurement, control, actuation, robotics, digitalisation and electrification”.

Although the deal price was not disclosed, ABB said B&R had been valued “in line with” industrial peers.

B&R has a global customer base of more than 4,000 machine manufacturers, and offers automation software and solutions for customers in the machine and factory automation market segment.

As well as robots, ABB’s businesses include engineering products and power systems, and depend heavily on spending by companies and governments. Sales have been hit in recent years by sluggish global economic growth, upheaval in the energy sector and fierce competition.

ABB’s revenues fell 5 per cent last year to $33.8bn. Pre-tax operating profits were flat at $4.2bn.

Josef Rainer, co-founder of B&R, said:

We are convinced that ABB offers the best platform for the next chapter of our growth story.

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Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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