San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Swiss Company Offers $1 Billion for Power-One

Monday, April 22, 2013

Swiss engineering company ABB has agreed to buy Camarillo solar equipment manufacturer Power-One Inc. for $1 billion, the companies said Monday.

The Zurich company is offering Power-One shareholders $6.35 a share, 57 cents above its Friday closing price when its market cap was $491 million. The offer sent shares skyrocketing 57 percent, for a $2.29 gain, to close at $6.33 on the Nasdaq.

ABB designs and manufactures robotics used in solar and automation technology, and already makes its own version of Power-One’s primary product, an inverter that converts solar power from direct current to alternating current that is usable by customers.

ABB said the acquisition will bolster its solar energy division, which has an office in Los Angeles, while Power-One will see its own benefits.

“The transaction delivers significant value to our shareholders and will enable Power-One to accelerate its growth,” said Power-One Chief Executive Richard Thompson in a statement.

The deal is structured as a merger and would close in the second half of the year after approval by shareholders. Silver Lake Sumeru, which controls more than 14 percent of Power-One’s shares and is its largest shareholder, agreed to vote in favor of the transaction, according to the announcement.

Power-One reported a net profit of $120 million last year, despite a $17.1 million loss in the fourth quarter, which it blamed on weak European sales. It is the second-largest inverter manufacturer in the world, behind German firm SMA Solar Technology.

"The market is very tumultuous for solar overall and wind power, but I really feel the strong big disrupters in energy market in the next 10 years are going to be shale gas and photovoltaic power," said ABB Chief Executive Joe Hogan in a conference call.

Despite the high premium, analysts said that if ABB’s premise is correct, the purchase price is reasonable. Power-One employs nearly 3,300 people in the U.S., China, Italy and Slovakia.

“Power-One’s power solutions business should dovetail nicely with ABB’s existing and broad power conversion business,” said Carter Driscoll, analyst at Ascendiant Capital Markets LLC in Irvine, in an investor note. “ABB also sells some solar inverters, and Power-One’s product lines should bolster its presence substantially in renewable energy markets.”