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MagneTek sells motor business, buys drives

Aug. 1, 2003
MagneTek, Inc., Nashville, Tenn., agreed to sell its electric motor division to A.O. Smith Corp., Milwaukee, Wis., for $250 million. The company subsequently

MagneTek, Inc., Nashville, Tenn., agreed to sell its electric motor division to A.O. Smith Corp., Milwaukee, Wis., for $250 million. The company subsequently announced plans to purchase the assets of three electronic drives businesses. The motor unit accounted for more than 30% of MagneTek's overall revenues. The sale is a move to position the company as a supplier of electronic and electrical power supplies, according to Robert Murray, vice president of communications for MagneTek. "We have been in the past predominantly into electrical equipment and we are now becoming an electronic power supply company," Murray said.

The acquisition would make A.O. Smith, a manufacturer of diversified products such as motors from 1/2 hp to 500 hp, water heaters and storage tanks, one of the largest players in the U.S. motor industry. Smith has bought two other motor companies within the last two years. In July 1998, the company acquired the domestic hermetic motor operations of General Electric. In March 1997, A.O. Smith purchased UPPCO, a manufacturer of sub-fractional horsepower C-frame motors.

A.O. Smith will continue to operate the MagneTek plants and plans to keep the current distributors of MagneTek's motor business.

On the drives, side, MagneTek has acquired EMS Inc., Electromotive Systems Inc. and EMS/Rosa Automation Engineering, Inc., a closely held group of companies in Cincinnati. The acquisitions will expand MagneTek's New Berlin, Wis.-based drives and systems business and make MagneTek one of the nation's largest suppliers of AC electronic drives, the company said. The EMS companies had revenue last year of more than $50 million.

About the Author

Doug Chandler | Senior Staff Writer

Doug has been reporting and writing on the electrical industry for Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing since 1992 and still finds the industry’s evolution and the characters who inhabit its companies endlessly fascinating. That was true even before e-commerce, LED lighting and distributed generation began to disrupt so many of the electrical industry’s traditional practices.

Doug earned a BA in English Literature from the University of Kansas after spending a few years in KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism, then deciding he absolutely did not want to be a journalist. In the company of his wife, two kids, two dogs and two cats, he spends a lot of time in the garden and the kitchen – growing food, cooking, brewing beer – and helping to run the family coffee shop.

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