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ABB Goes Deep on Factory Automation with Deal to Acquire B&R

In its first major acquisition since 2013, ABB, Zurich, Switzerland, announced a move today to help it push much further into the factory automation market. ABB agreed to acquire Bernecker & Rainer Industrie-Elektronik GmbH (B&R), which it described as “the largest independent provider focused on product- and software-based, open-architecture solutions for machine and factory automation worldwide.”

B&R was founded in 1979 by Erwin Bernecker and Josef Rainer and is headquartered in Eggelsberg, Austria, and operates across 70 countries, generating sales of more than $600 million (2015/16) in the $20 billion machine and factory automation market segment. It employs more than 3,000 people, including about 1,000 research & development and application engineers.

The combination of ABB with B&R will create a comprehensive offering for customers of industrial automation, by pairing B&R's products, software and solutions for modern machine and factory automation with ABB’s offerings in robotics, process automation, digitalization and electrification.

ABB is keying its hopes on leading what’s been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution (in broad terms the integration of advanced automation, artificial intelligence and big data into manufacturing systems) and called the move a major step in expanding its digital offering by combining its portfolio of digital solutions, ABB Ability, with B&R's application and software platforms, its large installed base, customer access and tailored automation solutions.

“B&R is a gem in the world of machine and factory automation and this combination is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This transaction marks a true milestone for ABB, as B&R will close the historic gap within ABB’s automation offering. This is a perfect fit and will make us the only industrial automation provider offering customers the entire spectrum of technology and software solutions around measurement, control, actuation, robotics, digitalization and electrification,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. “This acquisition perfectly delivers on our Next Level strategy. With our unique digital offering and our installed base of more than 70 million connected devices, 70,000 control systems and now more than 3 million automated machines and 27,000 factory installations around the world, we enable our combined global customer base to seize the huge opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

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