Rockwell says no to Emerson offer

Article by Adam Duckett

ROCKWELL AUTOMATION has rejected a takeover offer worth around US$28bn from Emerson Electric.

Rockwell said it first received an offer on 2 August worth around US$200 per share; this was raised to US$215 on 10 October. After a careful review of the proposals, Rockwell’s board of directors unanimously determined that both proposals were not in the best interest of its shareholders.

Emerson has confirmed that discussions between the two US-based firms are no longer ongoing.

Rockwell CEO Blake Moret said the board is confident in the company’s strategic direction. Scott Davis, an analyst at Melius Research said the offer may draw others to line up an offer for Rockwell.

“We’d expect others to jump in,” Davis said. “It’s the best pure-play automation asset in the world right now,” reported Bloomberg.

In contrast, a number of financial publications in their analysis of the deals have painted the offer by Emerson as the CEO’s final attempt to redefine his 17-year legacy. Two years ago, the company sold its network power unit that failed to succeed as CEO David Farr had expected. 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 more stark, 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 reports.

Moody’s, the rating agency, said it expects increased investment and takeover activity in the process and controls sector, which includes Rockwell and competitors such as Siemens and Honeywell, The Financial Times reports.

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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