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Schneider buys Crouzet and Positec to target OEMs

01 October, 2000

Schneider Electric has bought the French controls-maker Crouzet and the Swiss motion control specialist SIG Positec for a total of £253m (€430m). The aim is to extend Schneider`s offering to machine-building OEMs.

Schneider is paying Thomson-CSF £138m (€235m) for Crouzet Automatismes. Thomson announced in May that it planned to sell Crouzet as part of a strategic review of its operations so that it can, in future, focus on the defence industry. Crouzet, which employs 1,860 people, is expected to notch up sales of £106m (€180m) this year with around 30% of its income coming from France, 50% from the rest of Europe, and 16% from the US. It has a UK subsidiary in Basingstoke.

Crouzet focuses on the OEM market through four core business: electronic controls; microswitches; micromotors; and pneumatic logic modules. It has seven production and development sites in France, the US, Spain, Morocco and Mexico. Its UK base is in Slough.

Schneider has paid SIG a reported £115m (€195m) for Positec. SIG`s decision to sell the motion control operation is in line with its policy of focusing on its packaging technology operations. The sale, which is retroactive to January, is the last in a string of sell-offs by SIG to achieve this objective.

Positec grew out of Bergerlahr which SIG bought in 1987. Within five years, SIG had boosted the division`s sales from £40m to more than £63m. Positec`s products range from small drives, synchronous motors and actuators, to robotic and control systems. Most of its sales are to OEMs, particularly in the textile, packaging and printing industries.

Schneider plans to run Positec as an independent division, keeping the company`s existing 800-strong staff. Positec`s sales this year are expected to be around £65m (€110m) with 46% of this coming from Germany, 19% from Italy and 15% from Switzerland. The motion control market served by Positec is worth an estimated £2.35m (€4bn) and is growing at 7.5% a year.

Schneider hopes that the acquisitions will allow it to sell more products and services to its existing customers. The company predicts that the new businesses will "benefit from sustained growth thanks to their synergy with the rest of Schneider Electric". They will reduce earnings slightly by 0.6% in 2001 and boost earnings per share by 0.3% in 2002, Schneider forecasts.

Both acquisitions have still to be approved by anti-trust authorities.

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