Siebe plc, parent company of controls maker Barber-Colman Co., has offered to buy Eurotherm plc for about $700 million — a move Siebe says would create a global leader in temperature controllers and give Siebe new variable-speed drive business.
Both British companies, which are publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange, announced the news April 27. The deal is subject to government approval.
Eurotherm, based in West Sussex, England, makes temperature controllers, single-loop and multi-loop process controllers, pressure transmitters, drives and gauges.
The pending deal follows Siebe's acquisition in March of Wonderware Corp. of Irvine, Calif., which pioneered Windows-based software for industrial automation systems.
Siebe of Windsor, England, has owned Barber-Colman since 1987.
Barber-Colman officials, while noting the deal is not yet final, said Eurotherm and Barber-Colman products are a good fit.
Barber-Colman already is a leading supplier of temperature controllers for plastics machinery, such as injection molding machines, blow molders and extruders. Eurotherm is strong in discrete control components for extrusion, according to Alan Smith, Barber-Colman's director of marketing.
Last year, Eurotherm bought LFE Industrial Systems Inc. of Clinton, Mass. Both companies make controls and gauging systems for film and sheet extrusion.
Smith, in a telephone interview from Barber-Colman headquarters in Loves Park, Ill., said the deal would make the company the largest manufacturer, by far, of single-loop controllers for plastics.
Eurotherm's sales were $337 million in 1997, according to Automation Hot Tips, a news service published by Automation Research Corp., a Dedham, Mass., market research and consulting firm.
Barber-Colman officials declined to provide specific details of how Siebe will integrate Barber-Colman and Eurotherm. But Automation Hot Tips reported that Siebe plans to create a new business unit that includes both companies. Ero Electronic Spa of Milan, Italy, which Barber-Colman acquired in 1996, also will be part of the new unit. The news service said Siebe plans to retain the Eurotherm brand name identity, and to keep Eurotherm intact.
Meanwhile, Barber-Colman is working to use Wonderware in its products. ``We're going to integrate their software and we're going to customize it for plastics applications,'' Smith said. ``We'll be releasing a product in June that will be the first phase.''
One Wonderware specialty is operator interface products, which also is a key component of plastics machinery controllers.