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Cooper Cameron to Buy Orbit Valve for $100 Million

2 min read

Orbit Valve International Inc. of Little Rock, which manufactures valves for the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, agreed last week to be purchased by Cooper Cameron Corp. for about $100 million in cash.

It’s expected that the deal could close by April.

“We looked at all the final bidders for Orbit and really believe that Cooper Cameron is someone who is very similar to Orbit in terms of how they value people, value customers and value quality,” says Shannon Ligon, Orbit Valve’s vice president of human resources.

More than 20 companies and investor groups received offering circulars about the sale of Orbit Valve, which has been planned since October. There were five finalists and Ed Ligon, chief executive officer of Orbit Valve, made the final decision to choose Houston-based Cooper Cameron.

Shannon Ligon says Orbit’s 400 employees in Little Rock seemed to be positive but cautious about the purchase. Sheldon Erikson, Cooper Cameron’s president and chief executive officer, was in Little Rock to talk with Orbit Valve’s employees last Wednesday and told them the manufacturing plant would remain in Little Rock.

Shannon Ligon says Erikson also told the employees that he anticipated things would remain the same for Orbit Valve and its employees.

“We don’t expect any changes in our executive or management group,” Shannon Ligon says.

Ed Ligon says he will probably have no future role with Orbit Valve.

Ed Ligon declined to name the other four finalists. Arkansas Business reported Jan. 19 that Cooper Cameron might be the buyer, but later speculation indicated that Tyco International Ltd. of Exeter, N.H., could have outbid Cooper Cameron.

The Ligon family – Ed and his wife, Judy; their three children Lisa, Chris and Shannon; and Ed’s sister, Nadine Hankinson, and her children – are the majority owners of Orbit Valve. There are other stockholders, including some employees of Orbit Valve, Shannon Ligon says.

Orbit Valve had revenue of about $85 million last year. Cooper Cameron, a publicly traded firm that makes oil and gas pressure control equipment, reported sales of $1.8 billion last year, a 30 percent improvement over 1996. It had earnings of $140.6 million, more than double the net income of $64 million in 1996.

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