Memphis, Tenn.-based electrical products company Thomas & Betts Corp. has signed a deal to buy Beachwood, Ohio-based Lamson & Sessions Co. for $450 million.
Lamson, an extruder of PVC pipe and conduit and an injection molder of electrical enclosures and fittings, has been under fire from its largest shareholder, New York-based Ramius Capital Group LLC, since December, when the private equity firm started petitioning Lamson management to sell the PVC pipe business, if not the entire company.
The deal, which is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, is expected to close in the fourth quarter.
T&B officials said they are exploring alternatives for Lamson's PVC pipe business, meaning the operation could be sold.
``That business is a little bit different style than what we do,'' said Tricia Bergeron, T&B's vice president of investor and corporate relations, in an Aug. 17 telephone interview. ``Most of our products are shelf goods, and PVC pipe is not a shelf good. Big pipe is not something that works in our logistics model.''
Bergeron did say it is possible that T&B will keep the pipe business.
``It's just so early in the process,'' she said.
Too early, she said, to offer any insight on what T&B officials will decide to do with Lamson's manufacturing assets or the duplicative corporate positions at Lamson's Ohio headquarters.
``We're going to take things slow and cautiously,'' she said. ``They've got a good business model and we don't want to jeopardize their relationships with their customers.''
In total, Lamson employs about 1,300, said Chief Financial Officer Jim Abel.
Lamson has extrusion facilities in Tennille, Ga.; Mountain Grove, Mo.; High Springs, Fla.; Woodland, Calif.; Nazareth and Erie, Pa.; and Oklahoma City. The company also operates injection molding plants in Clinton, Iowa; and Bowling Green, Ohio.
While the majority of T&B products are metal, the company already has in-house plastics processing capacity. The company molds nonmetallic enclosures - a product category in which Lamson is the market leader - and Elastimold-brand underground power-distribution equipment.
``It's our philosophy to be the No. 1 or No. 2 brand in the markets we serve,'' Bergeron said. ``Lamson is the leading brand for plastic boxes, but we did not have plastic fittings, enclosures or wiring devices. So in addition to getting the No. 1 brand in a space we already served, we broadened our product portfolio.''
Lamson reported sales of about $561 million last year. T&B had 2006 sales of $1.9 billion and employs about 9,000 worldwide, Bergeron said.
At the time of the proposed sale, Ramius owned nearly 12 percent of Lamson shares. Lamson stock was trading about 30 percent higher than the day before the acquisition was announced.
Ramius Capital officials declined to comment.