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January News in Brief
Published:  01 January, 2008

º  Schneider Electric’s chairman Henri Lachmann has said that a rumoured takeover of Schneider by ABB "does not appear possible" because there is "too much overlap" between the two companies. Market speculation has suggested that ABB may be planning a large acquisition using its $3bn of cash reserves. Another rumoured target is Rockwell Automation. However, ABB CEO Fred Kindle recently played down the likelihood of any large mergers in the coming months because of the turmoil in global financial markets.

º  The Brazilian motor-maker WEG is planning to invest around $295m this year to expand and modernise its plants in Brazil, Portugal, Mexico and China. The bulk of the investment will go into casting and stamping facilities and a new hydro generator factory. WEG’s new CEO, Harry Schmelzer, expects the company’s revenues to grow by 20% this year.

º  US-based robotics specialist Adept Technology is buying the French motion control supplier, Cerebellum Automation, for $1.2m. Cerebellum’s products include a robotic and motion control development suite, and a parts-handling system.

º  Emerson Electric has sold its Brooks Instrument business to a private equity firm, American Industrial Partners, for about $100m in cash. Brooks, which makes flow measurement and control devices, had sales worth $90m last year.

º  Danaher Motion has won a $12m contract from BAE Systems Hägglunds to develop electric drive systems for wheeled and tracked military vehicles.

º  India’s AC drives market, which exceeded $150m in 2006, will grow at a CAGR of 15.4% over the next five years, according to a forecast by the ARC Advisory Group. The market is being driven by India’s economic expansion and will experience intensifying competition.

º  Schneider Electric achieved a record organic growth rate of 13.9% in 2007, with a further 15.8% coming from acquisitions, taking its total sales to €17.3bn. Half of the growth came from emerging countries. Schneider’s organic growth target for 2008 is 6–8%

º  The German materials-handling and actuation specialist, Pfaff-silberblau, has moved to a hew headquarters site in Kissing, with 9,400m2 of floorspace for production, warehousing and administration. The company is planning to expand the 220-strong workforce and to make "massive" investments in production.

º  SKF is investing £18.6m in a new factory in Russia to make tapered bearings for railway applications. The factory, due to open in 2010, will employ 150 people. SKF is also closing a factory in the US and transferring production to Mexico, as well as cutting the number of people working at its French factory in Fontenay-le-Comte.

º  Bosch Rexroth chairman Manfred Grundke is leaving to become MD of a private German company. He will be succeeded by Dr Albert Hieronimus who was previously MD of Bosch’s Indian subsidiary, Motor Industries.

º  Around 9,300 electric motors made in Mexico by the US motor-maker AO Smith Electrical Products, are being recalled because of a possible fire hazard. The motors, used in domestic exhaust fans, may be wrongly wired and could over-heat, resulting in a fire.

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