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Leviton Buys Back Thomas & Betts Minority Ownership Stake for $300 Million

Ending one of the more intriguing business relationships in recent electrical industry history, Thomas & Betts Corp., Memphis, Tenn., sold the 29.1 percent stake it had held for nearly 14 years in Leviton Manufacturing Co., Little Neck, N.Y., back to the family that controls Leviton for $300 million.

According to a company press release, Thomas & Betts anticipates an after-tax gain of about $1.70 a share from the sale, which was announced on June 24. Under the terms of the deal, if Leviton sells itself to anyone over the next three years at a price per share higher than the sum paid to Thomas & Betts, Leviton will pay Thomas & Betts its prorated share of the difference.

Leviton said in a press release that the purchase of Thomas & Betts' minority interest in its stock “secures its long-term strategic objective of the restoration of total ownership of the company to the Leviton family and continuation of its policy to remain privately held and operated.”

T&B bought the 29.1 percent stake in Leviton in 1994 from Thomas Blumberg, who at the time was Leviton's group vice president for sales and marketing. T&B wanted to build on that minority ownership stake and purchase the entire company, according to press reports at that time, but Harold Leviton, Leviton's legendary president, CEO and son of company founder Isidor Leviton, owned the other shares of the company and refused to sell. The deal came at a time when T&B was one of the most active acquirers in the electrical manufacturing community.

According to a report in the Aug. 5, 1994, edition of Electrical Marketing, shortly after announcing his intentions to sell his family's share of the company stock, Blumberg and several family members working for Leviton at the time were terminated. His wife, Lanie, the granddaughter of the company's founder and Harold Leviton's niece, was also told that she would no longer sit on the board of directors, according to the EM report.

Harold Leviton passed away in October 2007, and two of his sons-in-law now run the company: Donald J. Hendler, president and CEO, and Stephen B. Sokolow, chairman of the board.

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