Baldor Owner ABB to Buy Power-One in $1B Deal

ABB, the Swiss company that owns Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith, said Monday that it is buying Power-One Inc. of Camirillo, Calif., a firm taken public by Stephens Inc. of Little Rock in 1997.

ABB is a publicly traded power and automation technology group based in Zurich. It purchased Baldor in a $4.2 billion deal in 2010. Power-One, traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol PWER, makes power supplies for computers and other electronics.

In a news release, the companies' boards of directors said they had agreed to a deal whereby ABB would acquire Power-One for $6.35 per share in cash, or $1.03 billion.

Members of the Stephens family and their employees began investing in Power-One in 1995. At one point after the company's IPO, Stephens interests owned nearly 46 percent of Power-One stock. But Stephens members are no longer listed among the company's controlling owners.

On Monday, ABB said the purchase of Power-One will position ABB "as a leading global supplier of solar inverters," described as the "intelligence" behind a solar photovoltaic, or "solar PV," system. ABB said the International Energy Agency has forecast that market to grow by more than 10 percent per year until 2021.

"Solar PV is becoming a major force reshaping the future energy mix because it is rapidly closing in on grid parity," ABB CEO Joe Hogan said in a news release. "Power-One is a well-managed company and is highly regarded as a technology innovator focusing on the most attractive and intelligent solar PV product.

"The combination of Power-One and ABB is fully in line with our 2015 strategy and would create a global player with the scale to compete successfully and create value for customers, employees and shareholders."

Power-One sells solar inverters and employs almost 3,300 people, mainly in China, Italy, the U.S. and Slovakia. In 2012, it generated $120 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) on sales of about $1 billion.

"This transaction delivers significant value to our shareholders and will enable Power-One to accelerate its growth," said Richard J. Thompson, CEO of Power-One. "Together we can better address the growing worldwide demand for innovative, renewable energy solutions and strengthen our global leadership. I believe ABB is the right partner and now is the ideal time for our companies to join forces."