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Emerson Buys GE’s Intelligent Platforms Business to Expand Process Control Play

Oct. 5, 2018
Emerson plans to integrate the PLC technology with Emerson’s distributed control systems

Emerson made a significant move to expand its already substantial presence in automation and process control with a deal to buy GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, a unit based in Charlottesville, VA, that makes programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other machine control, industrial computing, input/output (I/O) and networking devices, and offers project and integration services. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

An Emerson press release announcing the acquisition said GE Intelligent Platforms’ PLC technologies will enable Emerson to provide its customers broader control and management of their operations. The acquisition expands opportunities for Emerson in machine control and discrete applications across process industries and target hybrid markets, such as metals & mining, life sciences, food & beverage and packaging.

Emerson plans to integrate the PLC technology with Emerson’s distributed control systems, allowing customers to connect “islands of automation” within the plants. Intelligent Platforms recently developed a new family of cloud-connected controllers that will complement Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem.

“Adding GE’s Intelligent Platforms business makes Emerson an even stronger player in the automation space and expands our capabilities to serve the needs across process, hybrid and discrete markets,” said Emerson Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Farr. “This is another important investment in our global portfolio of automation technologies, offering discrete and machine control capabilities that complement our process control expertise to provide better solutions to our customers.”

Intelligent Platforms, in operation for 25 years, has approximately 650 employees worldwide and 2017 sales of $210 million.

The deal, which one must assume has been in the works for some time, was somewhat overshadowed by being announced the day after GE announced a replacement of its top executive, naming former Danaher chairman Lawrence Culp, Jr., to replace John Flannery, and said it will take a substantial goodwill impairment charge on its Power business. In that light, selling the Intelligent Platforms business may help.

“This transaction enables Intelligent Platforms to be best positioned to pursue its growth strategy, while accelerating our reinvestment in GE Power to develop the energy technologies of the future and provide the world with reliable, affordable electricity,” said Russell Stokes, president and CEO of GE Power, in Emerson’s release.

The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of fiscal 2019, subject to regulatory approvals, GE’s consultation with employee representatives where required and other customary closing conditions.