Automation Company Commentary

On a broad front, we keep our finger in the pie and toe in the water. You'll get news, views and reviews from - unbiased strategic insights and tactical commentary.

When organic growth slows, mergers and acquisitions provide good alternatives. We'll provide M&A news with strategic analysis that is one cut above anything else in the industry - perspectives of acquiror and acquired, candidates, targets, predators and prey.

And you'll get discussions which are not provided by most industry magazines - company cultures, people perspectives, business and marketing bakground. You'll find incisive commentary, without fear or favor.

Index of Company commentary

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MTL acquires

MTL enters wireless arena with acquisition of Elpro
In May 2007, UK-based MTL Instruments Group announced the acquisition of Australia-based Elpro International for A$28.5m (about US$20m). Elpro is profitable and growing, and the acquisition price represents about 2.5 times annual sales, a sweet deal all round. MTL is a $175M public company and paid cash, funded with available bank debt. Here's a summary of the strategic & cultural fit.

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Beckhoff keeps growing & growing
Europe's most successful PC pioneer, Hans Beckhoff, attributes growth to emphasis on new, innovative automation technology, continuous introduction of new products, combined with consistent expansion of the company's international distribution network.

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Honeywell Culture Drives for Leadership
With annual revenue of about $30B and current market-cap of about $ 32B, Honeywell is arguably the largest US-based automation company. Here's an updated (Sept. 2006) view of the corporate culture. Published by - September 2006.

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NEW Invensys

The Invensys/Foxboro Culture - It took a lickin' but kept on tickin'
Just six years ago Invensys was one of the top industrial companies, with annual revenues of about $ 14B and comparable market-cap. But, after several unwise acquisitions the stock declined drastically and many of the best-performing companies in the group were sold off to stay financially afloat. Here's a review of how the corporate culture not only survived, but thrived. Published by - August 2006.

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MTL has crossed $100M with independent growth & success
Measurement Technology Limited (MTL)is recognized throughout the process control industry as the world leader in Intrinsic Safety products for hazardous areas. Growing beyond its niche, MTL is successfully developing a strong position as an automation hardware infrastructure provider. Published by - June 2006.

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Matrikon - A Successful Solutions Provider Approaching $100m
Matrikon is one of the largest independent industrial automation systems integrators in North America. The company has already broken some of the traditional size limitations for systems integrators, and is now well on its way to breaking the famed 1,000 people, $100M barrier. Published by - May 2006.

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National Instruments - Culture of Growth & Success
National Instruments achieved about $600 million in annual revenue in 2005, and looks well set to exceed $ 1 billion within the next few years. The company is exceptional in that it has thrived for three decades after startup, with an adaptive people-orientated culture and the founder is still in charge. Published by - April 2006.

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The ABB Corporate Culture – Winners Shaped by History
Already an automation leader, ABB made a series of bold acquisitions in the 1990's. The company got into serious trouble in 2002, but quick, decisive action succeeded in reversing most of the problems. Read this review of the culture of a new, stronger and more focused ABB – one of the automation industry's most dramatic turnarounds. Published by - March 2006.

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The Emerson

The Emerson Difference
Emerson is one of the world's leading global manufacturing companies. Emerson Process Management is a leader in process control and automation. With an achievement-oriented culture, the company seems to attract and retain some of the best people in the industry. Published by - February 2006.

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Corp. Culture

Schneider - aggressive French Giant
Schneider Electric calls itself "the world’s power and control specialist". The company serves the residential, building, industry and energy and infrastructure markets. All operating numbers show significant growth in the past year, and their strategy of selective acquisitions continues. Here's a view of the Schneider Corporate Culture. Published by - January 2006.

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The Invensys Saga
Invensys was formed by Allen Yurko, after afer acquiring Foxboro, Wonderware, Eurotherm and several others, and a merger with BTR. Allen Yurko departed in 2001, after putting Invensys into a deadly decline. The new CEO, Rick Haythornthwaite was hailed as the savior; he gave up in July 2005. Here's the complete Invensys saga.
Published by Australian Automation.Industry-News.Net - July 2005.

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New GE

The New GE Corporate Culture - the Jeff Immelt Difference
Under former CEO Jack Welch (now retired), the skills GE prized most were deal-making, cost-cutting and efficiency. In 2002 CEO Jeff Immelt, then 46, was Jack Welch's anointed successor. Now in a vastly different business environment, Jeff Immelt is turning GE's culture upside down.

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Honeywell Culture

The New Honeywell Corporate Culture
The "old" Honeywell had developed over the past century as a respectable, though plodding, Minneapolis-based company. It merged with Allied Signal and was almost bought by GE. Now under the leadership of CEO David Cote, Roger Fradin (ACS) and Jack Bolick (Process Systems), how is the NEW Honeywell doing?

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Rockwell update

Rockwell Automation - Update 2005
Rockwell Automation continues as a strong, independent automatio leader. Here are extracts from eNews, providing updates to record the emergence of a stronger Rockwell Automation in 2004 and 2005.

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Yokogawa targets the top

Yokogawa targets the top spot
At the ARC Forum on February 2, 2005 in Orlando, Florida, Yokogawa's President and CEO, Isao Uchida, openly boasted (unusual for the Japanese) that Vigilant Plant systems will win a leading market-share for Yokogawa by the year 2010. Read Pinto's pointers and commentary.

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Emerson culture

The Emerson difference
Emerson is an achievement oriented culture. They select the best "high potential" people, and makes development plans for each individual. The company has a constant inflow of excellent new management. They seem to attract some of the best people in the industry, and keeps developing the next wave of leaders.

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Omron - success with a unique philosophy
Founded in 1933, Omron has grown to be the largest industrial automation company in Japan. The unusual thing about Omron is this: alone among any multi-billion corporations, it devotes a significant amount of attention to its ethical, social and philosophical position. The company continues to generate strong growth, profit and success.

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The rise and fall of Aspen Technology
Aspen Technology supplies modeling software and services used in the process industries. The company acquired a number of companies in the glory-days of the stock market, and has been going through some interesting twists and turns. Here is the story, to the end of 2004.

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Systems Integration

Automation Systems Integration – the realm of specialists
Automation systems integrators serve big markets. But most of them are unable to "scale up" beyond about $5-10m in annual revenue because their markets are fragmented, have specialized requirements and are geographically spread out. Published by - May 2004.

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Tomorrow's leaders

Tomorrow's automation leaders
In the industrial automation business, you can count the $ 1+billion companies on your fingers. Then count the companies between $ 100 million to $ 1 billion; you won’t get more than just a couple. All the others who seem to be in that range are simply divisions of larger conglomerates. So, who are the leaders of tomorrow?
Published by - December 2003.

Emerson - strong management drives performance
Emerson has been in business for 113 years and has grown to become one of the world's leading manufacturing companies with operations around the globe. First written for Jim Pinto book: "Automation Unplugged" Sept. 2003

Schneider Electric - Aggressive French Giant
With annual revenue about $10bn, and 75,000 employees in 130 countries, France based Schneider Electric is high on the world list of major automation companies. First written for Jim Pinto book: "Automation Unplugged" Sept. 2003

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The ABB Blahs
ABB (a combination of ASEA and Brown Boveri) bought Combustion Engineering, Elsag Bailey and a host of other automation companies. It was aggressive, well run, and has been a strong player in the "mating dance of the majors". During 2001 and 2002, ABB ran into trouble, the leadership started to disintegrate and there are questions regarding the future of this once great company. Extracts from eNews, Feb. 2001 to Sept. 2002.

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Automation -
The Japanese players

Industrial Automation - the Japanese players
With $3b in annual revenue and 20,000 employees worldwide, Yokogawa is certainly one of the top-10 industrial automation companies in the world. Omron has worldwide revenues of $4.5b (includes components and other businesses) with 25,000 employees. Other major Japanese industrial automation companies are Toshiba and Mitsubishi though they are second-tier automation players in the US and Europe. Extracts from eNews, April 26 '02, and 9 May, '02.

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Siemens -
an American
manager's view

Siemens: American manager's view
Siemens - current revenues about $75b - is easily the largest industrial automation company in the world. What is it like working for Siemens? I asked several managers who have worked fairly high up in the US Siemens organization. This is a summary of their collected insights. Extracts from eNews, April 18 '02, and 9 May '02.

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Rockwell Automation?

Whither Rockwell Automation? eNews, May 31, '01 - plus later updates.
Rockwell Automation is a leading supplier of industrial automation products - Allen-Bradley and Reliance are the major companies in the group. Rockwell, with aerospace roots, moved into industrial automation with the purchase of A-B (which up to that time was privately held). The current management group (CEO Don Davis et al) originated at A-B. During 2001, Rockwell spun off their Avionics business as Rockwell Collins, to focus on industrial products as Rockwell Automation. These extracts from eNews trace the news and developments at Rockwell Automation from 2001.

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The decline of Invensys eNews, June 29, '01 - plus later updates.
Invensys was formed by Allen Yurko, after UK-based Siebe merged with BTR. Siebe had previously acquired Foxboro, Wonderware, Eurotherm and several others, hoping to generate growth from industrial automation. When growth eluded Yurko, and Siebe was a target for Emerson, he merged Siebe with BTR, another UK hodge-podge, and changed the name to Invensys. With further decline, Yurko bought BAAN, a bankrupt Dutch software company, a risky move that didn't pay off. Now Invensys continues a downward spiral towards an eventual break-up and piecemeal sale.

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GE buys
then abandons
Honeywell for Sale - GE Buys - than abandons.
eNews : 21 October '00 - with later updates
The Honeywell saga started first as the sale of the controls division to Siemens, then the merger of the whole enchilada with United Technologies and then ended a couple of days later with the sale to GE - it all happened in less than a week! Finally, after finding that Honeywell was not really desirable, GE backed out of the merger. Few industry journals and financial newspapers tell the whole, unbiased background and story. Read it here.

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The wreck of
the Mike
Lyrics : The wreck of the Mike Bonsignore.
Sung to the tune of The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
By Gordon Lightfoot
There was a lot of employee unrest and turmoil at Honeywell, as a result of the GE merger and subsequent rejection. A Honeywell employee (name witheld) sent me these lyrics, which you'll enjoy.

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+ Baan

Invensys acquisition of Baan
- and follow-on impact on Invensys eNews, June, July, August '00, February 2001.
Includes follow-up on the impact on Invensys of Baan and the spin-off of Power Systems, and whether or not Invensys itself will survive - or be acquired.

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Companies in Trouble
Expected gains through consolidation are just not developing and several industrial automation companies are in deep troble. This article traces the decline of past industry leaders and points out the patterns that are developing as industrial age companies enter a new era. It offers predictions, warnings and advice.
First published in Controls Intelligence & Plant Systems Report, October 2000.

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Merger Urge
: 2000
The Urge to Merge : 2000
Lack of growth in industrial automation is forcing publicly-held companies into a steady stream of mergers and acquisitions to maintain or improve stock-market valuations. This update of my previous article includes the famous-list of industrial automation majors, ranked by size. First published in Controls Intelligence & Plant Systems Report, August 2000.

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ICS (UK) Slides

Downhill Debacle - ICS Group (UK) eNews, July 24 & August 1, 2000.
ICS Group (UK) got new management and raised a lot of money some 3 years ago. In July 2000, a bottom-feeding vulture group made a penny-a-share bid, valuing ICS at $ 2.5m, evidently supported by the ICS board and the banks. Stockholders awaited a 'white-knight' - but none came.
Includes Pinto Postscript : Oct. 2000.

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Automation Stocks Unloved

Automation stocks continue slide - rumors buzz eNews, July 3, 2000.
Automation stock continue to slide (July '00) because the sector is considered "unloved". Some healthy automation companies move towards going "private". Meanwhile, merger & acquisition rumors abound.

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Roxboro going 'private' - then stays public

Roxboro in 'unloved' sector - goes private eNews, 3 July '00.
Roxboro, $ 200m UK public company feels that the industrial automation and equipment business is "unloved" in the stock-market, and is working with Schroeder, a venture-capital group, to take the company private.
Roxboro decides to stay public eNews, 4 October '00.

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Automation Stocks Side

Automation Stocks Slide eNews, 26 June '00.
Review of the slide in industrial automation stocks, June 2000, with predictions and possibilities regarding further mergers and acquisitions

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Danaher Acquisitions

Danaher Acquisitions of Kollmorgen & Warner Electric (motion controls) - Announcement and response to eNews subscriber question. ( eNews 10 March '00 and 17 March '00)

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Fairey Spectris

Fairey Acquires Spectris AG
Fairey acquisition of Spectris AG - which includes B&K, HBM and BTG and others - commentary and analysis. ( eNews 17 March '00)

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The Merger Urge

The Urge to Merge... Versions of this article have appeared in Industrial Controls Intelligence, September 99 and other US and Europe journals. This is a more detailed text, with some additions and updates of the "famous list" of industry rankings - by size and market-cap.

Previous writings & commentary

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Automation Changes

The Changing Face of Automation
The new century has arrived as a benchmark of change. Everyone has recognized that business has moved into a new era where the ground rules are intrinsically different. Here are some of the causes behind the effects.

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Who will buy?

Who will Buy Rockwell & A-B?
Jack Grenard's Rumor Mill stirred up discussions on whether or not Rockwell was "selling off" Allen-Bradley. This article provides prognostications on the possibilities and probabilities. First published in Industrial Controls Intelligence , July '99

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What Next?
And Who?

What Next? And Who? First published in Industrial Controls Intelligence, July 98. A strategic view of the wave of mergers and acquisitions in the Automation business. What is next?
And who will be next?

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Writings Index

Index of all JimPinto writings
Take a look at a chronological index of all JimPinto writings and poetry.

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