ABB Divests T&B HVAC Unit, Invests in Motors

April 1, 2014

ABB, Zurich, Switzerland, has signed an agreement to divest the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) business it acquired in 2012 as part of Thomas & Betts in a $260 million all-cash deal. Separately, ABB also said it will invest in advanced motor-components fabricator Persimmon Technologies Corp., Wakefield, Mass.

Nortek, Providence, R.I., is buying the T&B HVAC business, which includes the Reznor brand, to add to its existing range of HVAC, air-handling, security and control lines. Nortek owns some well-known brands in the electrical industry, including Broan and Nutone. In addition to Reznor’s U.S. residential, commercial and industrial air conditioners, furnaces, electric heaters, condensers and air curtains, the business unit includes AmbiRad Ltd in the UK, Reznor Europe, N.V. in Belgium, Gaz Industrie S.A.S. in France and manufacturing operations in Monterrey, Mexico. Net sales of T&B HVAC were approximately $160 million in 2013. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2014, subject to customary closing conditions.

ABB said it’s divesting this business because of limited synergies with ABB’s core power and automation portfolio. ABB will continue to supply electrical motors and drives as well as low-voltage products to the HVAC industry.

The acquisition of Thomas & Betts in 2012 advanced ABB’s strategy of expanding the reach of its Low Voltage Products division into key geographies, sectors and products, the company said in a release. By combining ABB’s low-voltage protection, control and measurement products with Thomas & Betts’ electrical components, ABB has created a broader low-voltage offering with significant market access.

Meanwhile, ABB is adding to its investment in its other North American blockbuster acquisition — the purchase of motor giant Baldor Electric in 2010. ABB said it has invested in Persimmon Technologies, which is developing a 3D deposition technology for making motor components. The investment was made through ABB’s venture capital unit, ABB Technology Ventures, after a $6 million investment round that included previous investors such as Intel Capital.

Since launching in 2011, Persimmon has been developing hybrid-field motor technology, a new approach to making motor components using 3D deposition processes that aim to increase power density, eliminate manufacturing steps and reduce component costs, ABB said. The company’s first prototype motor concept increases the stator effective area and produces a higher output motor with comparable size and material cost.

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