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Wheatley takes control at Focus Dynamics
Published:  01 October, 1999

Wheatley takes control at Focus Dynamics


Former Control Techniques chairman Trevor Wheatley has re-entered the motion control industry by buying the drives activities of Focus Dynamics. This follows the successful takeover of Focus by Breckenburn, a company co-owned by Wheatley and the rail entrepreneur Sandy Anderson.

The Focus Dynamics board had tried to fend off the £5.3m bid, suggesting that it undervalued the company. They even threatened to break up the company rather than sell it to Breckenburn. But when the offer period closed last week, Breckenburn had acceptances representing more than 50% of the issued share capital, including Wheatley`s own 26% stake.

Wheatley has taken over FD`s drives activities via a private company, Drives Direct, that he set up a few years ago. Focus` remaining activity - making blades - has been bought by another former FD director, Bill Eastwood. The drives operation will keep the Focus Dynamics name and its headquarters will stay in Newtown, Powys - Wheatley`s home town.

Wheatley says that under his chairmanship, Focus will continue to target the global market for motors, drives, mechanical power transmission equipment, and other motion control components. "There will be no violent changes in direction," he says. He hopes that the former management team will stay, although this is subject to discussion. "We need to share a common vision," says Wheatley.

Wheatley is planning to expand Focus Dynamics partly through acquisitions and is already talking to several potential targets. These include equipment manufacturers as well as sales and support operations that could extend the existing network of Focus Centres.

"My immediate - and long-term - intention is to continue and intensify the efforts already started towards establishing a global drives and controls business," Wheatley says. "I am confident that an exciting future awaits us."

Wheatley first chaired Focus Dynamics when its was formed two years ago. But he was forced to resign his position and sell his shares in the company when his former employer, Emerson Electric, won a court case in which it alleged that Wheatley had broken an undertaking not to re-enter the drives business for a fixed period after leaving Emerson. Wheatley is currently awaiting the court`s decision on a counter-claim against Emerson for alleged wrongful dismissal.

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