24 Jul 2024


Yaskawa pays $28m for MagneTek`s drives operation

Yaskawa is buying MagneTek`s AC inverter business for $28m in cash in a bid to become the US drives market-leader. Yaskawa, which already manufactures drives for MagneTek, is currently in second position, behind Rockwell Automation, with around 14% of the market. It hopes to boost this share to 25% over the coming three years.

Yaskawa is buying the drives products business of MagneTek`s Drives & Systems group which supplies general-purpose and high-performance AC drives in ratings up to 1.1MW. The deal gives Yaskawa control of the main US sales channel for its drives products which will now be sold under its own name.

MagneTek is keeping its industrial controls business which specialises in drives for the crane, hoist, elevator, and mining industries, as well as power conditioning for the distributed power generation and fuel cell markets.

Yaskawa already claims to be the world`s largest producer of AC inverter drives, with about 13% of the global market. It hopes that the MagneTek acquisition will help to boost this share to 20%.

The deal marks the latest phase in MagneTek`s shift from being a supplier of electrical equipment to being an electronics specialist. Until 1999, when MagneTek sold is motors business to AO Smith, electrical equipment represented 40% of its income. It now focuses on electronic power products for growing markets such as special-purpose motion controls, information technology and lighting. MagneTek`s current goal is to become a leader in the power conversion and control business.

The MagneTek acquisition is the third action taken by Yaskawa in the past year to boost its US presence. Last June, it established a semiconductor systems business, Synetics Solutions, and in October it opened a development centre in California.

MagneTek has recently set up a UK-based operation to boost its elevator drives business in Europe. It has appointed Lionel Hutt, formerly with Omron and KEB, as its European business development manager. The company`s range includes AC and DC drives for geared and gearless lift applications, as well as current-controlled soft-starts for hydraulic drives.