Emerson to buy Chloride: ABB backs out

5 June: The Emerson bid to acquire Chloride in the UK originated with talks in early 2008, that came to nothing. However, Emerson sees Chloride as the European lead HQ for its network power systems business, and is still persistent,  despite the rejection of its £723M offer, 275p a share, made at the end of April. But all the plans of David Farr, Chairman and CEO at Emerson, fell apart, when Chloride reported underlying profits at the top end of city expectations: but surely Farr knew that they were in this good position and should have been delighted to see his expectations confirmed! Chloride has been growing fast in supplying un-interruptible power supplies to provide security to keep major companies operating through power cuts. This is not just a growing market in the developing regions, like India and China, but also happening across the US and Europe, as power supplies become less reliable, and continuity of supply more important.  But Chloride has also expanded with new offices in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines.

While Emerson canvasses major shareholders to assess what price would be attractive, the share price continues upwards, past 286p, and even at this level the institutions are still buying in. So Emerson will have to dig deeper, unless the pressure on the pound generated by anti-British sentiment in the US over the BP problems comes to their rescue.

8 June: ABB joins the party! Or should that be the fray? ABB have made a counter offer to buy the Chloride Group, pitched at 325p a share, giving a total offer value of £860Million and topping the Emerson bid. This offer has been recommended for shareholder acceptance by the Chloride Board. The stock market obviously expects another bid, with the current share price standing at 342p.

15 June: It seems that industry analysts predict there will be no counter-bid by Emerson to top the ABB offer, so it seems that the stock market appetite for a battle was just the over-enthusiasm whipped up by greedy investors.

30 June: A new offer from Emerson of 375p a share, almost USD1.5 billion, sent Chloride’s share price up 37p to 385½p, amid expectations ABB will hit back with a higher offer.

1 July: ABB announce that in the interests of taking a disciplined approach to such acquisitions, a higher offer from ABB would not be appropriate.

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New process control workstations from CGM Sweden

CGM of Sweden specialise in the design and production of operator control room solutions for 24/7 environments, whether for emergency centres, railway control, power stations, air traffic control or process plant environments. Attending the recent ABB Automation and Power World event in Houston, Pierre Schäring, Managing Director of CGM, was showing the EOW-x workstation, which is used by ABB for System 800xA based control rooms, typically with three 52″ industrial LCD panels. The version on show actually offered two such large display screens. These consoles are fitted with the latest in technology to improve operator performance, offering height and tilt angle adjustment on the large panels, as well as on the multiple smaller monitors available at console height. This console table height, and distance to the monitors, is adjustable, and the lighting and sound system around the operator is adjusted to preset preferences, individual to each operator. This allows rapid personalisation of the work station at shift changes. The single keyboard controls all displays, and has hotkeys for frequently used 800xA functions.
Integrated into the EOW-x system, a multi-pixel camera and high quality microphone allows audio-visual communications between plant operators, with the video shown on one of the back LCD panels. The console also allows for a micro-climate control system, again personalised, enabling the operator to maintain comfort and alertness.
The skill and knowledge developed in CGM has led recently to the Swedish Government providing some funding for a research centre on control rooms to be established by them, to improve operator effectiveness. Schäring is now working hard to involve the important suppliers and research institutes in this project, to make the centre a reality.