ABB to acquire B&R

ABB Australia Pty Ltd

By Process Online Staff
Wednesday, 05 April, 2017


ABB has announced the acquisition of B&R (Bernecker + Rainer Industrie-Elektronik GmbH), the largest independent provider focused on product- and software-based open-architecture solutions for machine and factory automation worldwide.

B&R, founded in 1979 by Erwin Bernecker and Josef Rainer, is headquartered in Eggelsberg, Austria and employs more than 3000 people, including about 1000 R&D and application engineers. It operates across 70 countries, generating sales of more than $600 million (2015–16) in the $20 billion machine and factory automation market segment. The combination will result in a comprehensive offering for customers of industrial automation by pairing B&R’s innovative products, software and solutions for modern machine and factory automation with ABB’s offering in robotics, process automation, digitalisation and electrification.

Through the acquisition, ABB will expand its capabilities in industrial automation and will be better positioned to seize growth opportunities resulting from the fourth industrial revolution. In addition, ABB is taking a major step in expanding its digital offering by combining its portfolio of digital solutions, ABB Ability, with B&R’s strong application and software platforms, its large installed base, its customer access and its tailored automation solutions.

“B&R is a gem in the world of machine and factory automation and this combination is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This transaction marks a true milestone for ABB, as B&R will close the historic gap within ABB’s automation offering. This is a perfect fit and will make us the only industrial automation provider offering customers the entire spectrum of technology and software solutions around measurement, control, actuation, robotics, digitalisation and electrification,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer.

“This acquisition perfectly delivers on our Next Level strategy. With our unique digital offering and our installed base of more than 70 million connected devices, 70,000 control systems and now more than 3 million automated machines and 27,000 factory installations around the world, we enable our combined global customer base to seize the huge opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution.”

“This combination offers fantastic opportunities for B&R, its customers and employees. We are convinced that ABB offers the best platform for the next chapter of our growth story. ABB’s global presence, digital offering and complementary portfolio will be key for us to further accelerate our pace of innovation and growth,” said Josef Rainer, co-founder of B&R.

“This is a strong signal for our employees, as our operations in Eggelsberg will become ABB’s global centre for machine and factory automation,” said Erwin Bernecker, co-founder of B&R. “The most important thing to me is that the companies and their people fit so well together and that our founding location will play such a key role.”

With the acquisition, ABB will expand its industrial automation offering by integrating B&R’s products in PLCs, industrial PCs and servo motion, as well as its software and solution suite. ABB will offer its customers a comprehensive, open-architecture automation portfolio.

B&R has grown successfully, with a revenue CAGR of 11% over the last two decades. Revenues more than quintupled since 2000 to more than $600 million (2015–16). The company has a rapidly growing global customer base of more than 4000 machine manufacturers, a track record in automation software and solutions and application expertise for customers in the machine and factory automation market segment.

Both companies have complementary portfolios. ABB is a provider of solutions serving customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure, while B&R is a solution provider in the automation of machines and factories for industries such as plastics, packaging, food and beverages.

Innovation is at the heart of both companies. B&R invests more than 10% of its sales in R&D and employs more than 1000 people in R&D and application engineering. ABB spends $1.5 billion annually on R&D and employs some 30,000 technologists and engineering specialists. Going forward, ABB and B&R will continue to invest considerably in R&D.

On the closing of the transaction, B&R will become part of ABB’s Industrial Automation division as a new global business unit — Machine & Factory Automation — headed by the current managing director, Hans Wimmer. Both companies consider B&R’s management and employees as a key driver of future growth and the business integration together with their counterparts from ABB. Bernecker and Rainer will act as advisers during the integration phase to ensure continuity.

The integration will be growth-focused and live by the ‘best of both worlds’ principle, with ABB adding its own PLC and servo drive activities to the offering of the new business unit in a phased approach. ABB underlines its clear commitment to continuing the B&R growth story by articulating a mid-term sales ambition to exceed $1 billion.

ABB is committed to further investing in the expansion of B&R’s operations and to building on the company’s successful business model and brand. B&R’s headquarters in Eggelsberg will become ABB’s global centre for machine and factory automation.

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