Emerson quits chasing Rockwell

Article by Adam Duckett

EMERSON ELECTRIC has abandoned its pursuit of Rockwell Automation following a forceful rejection of its recent offers.

Emerson tabled a series of bids for the rival automation firm, culminating with a US$29bn offer made earlier this month. The Rockwell board hit back arguing that it undervalued the firm and, in a forcefully-worded letter, Rockwell’s CEO Blake Moret said that merging with Emerson would dampen Rockwell’s growth.

Emerson has now withdrawn its bid, citing Rockwell’s “continued unwillingness to engage in discussions” about a tie-up.

“The Rockwell board again rejected our offer, which would have delivered approximately US$30bn of value to Rockwell shareholders,” said Emerson CEO David Farr. “Instead of engaging in constructive dialogue, the Rockwell Board decided to let this unique and value-generative opportunity go unexplored.”

Earlier analysis had highlighted the gulf in performance among the two firms. Over the past ten years, while Rockwell’s shares have climbed more than 151%, Emerson’s have risen just 27%. In the last three years the figures are starker, as Rockwell has increased 79% while Emerson has achieved less than 1%.

“Emerson needs Rockwell Automation much more than Rockwell Automation needs Emerson,” said Jeffrey Sprague, an analyst with Vertical Research Partners. “In fact, Rockwell Automation probably does not need Emerson at all,” Bloomberg reported when the news of the earlier deals broke.

Commenting on Emerson’s withdrawal, Farr said: “We remain confident in the strategic plans we have in place, and in Emerson’s ability to create a global automation leader with a technology portfolio to meet evolving customer needs across process, hybrid and discrete product lines.”

In response, Rockwell issued a statement saying the board remains committed to its own strategy.

The sector is going through a period of flux as smart technologies are being introduced that enable manufacturers to connect their plant devices and analyse new streams of data to improve production processes, maintenance scheduling and in turn increase uptime and profitability.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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