ABB: It stands for Aggressive Buying Behavior.
The Swiss electrical equipment manufacturer has bought Mincom, which makes software for managing mining operations, for an undisclosed sum. Mincom's annual revenue comes to around $200 million and it employs 1,000. Seventeen of the top twenty mining companies are Mincom customers and it enjoys a large presence in Latin America and Asia.
Mincom will become part of ABB's Ventyx subsidiary. ABB bought Ventyx last May for $1 billion. Since then, Ventyx has acquired Obvient.
Four years ago, ABB didn’t come up much in conversations in Silicon Valley. Now, ABB represents one of the best exit paths for startups in efficiency and grid equipment. Along with the three acquisitions listed above, ABB bought electric motor maker Baldor Electric for $4.2 billion and Insert Key Solutions, which specializes in asset management software, in the past year.
ABB's VC group has also plunked money into companies like car charger Ecotality and data center software vendor PowerAssure.
In April, ABB broke ground on a high voltage cable factory in North Carolina. The $90 million factory will employ more than 100. Founded in 1883, ABB has pioneered, among other technologies, high voltage DC transmission. It was number two on our list of Green Giants this year.
With the acquisition race on in smart grid, expect to see the name continue to pop up.
The deal underscores one of the biggest trends of the year: the extended shopping spree of European conglomerates. Total, the French oil and gas giant, has made a bid to buy 60 percent of SunPower. Other recent visitors from the old world include France’s Schneider Electric (five acquisitions since December, including Lee Technologies and $268 million Summit Energy in recent months) and Saint-Gobain (an $80 million strategic investment in Sage Electrochromics). Last year, Areva, the nuclear power of France, bought solar thermal developer Ausra.
Someone call Henry James.
While Mincom and Ausra hail from Australia, a lot of these acquisitions are from the U.S. Europe specializes in sprawling conglomerates with deep pockets and decades of experience, but that sometimes can’t seize the day with cutting-edge technology. The U.S. has a surfeit of innovative startups but most need money and connections. Call it a May-December bromance. The exchange rate doesn’t hurt either.
Interestingly, ABB's buying behavior comes as a result of hiring Joe Hogan, a former GE'er, as CEO. In 2002, ABB went bankrupt after a series of acquisitions. The company then brought in Fred Kindle to stabilize the ship. Hogan, an American, joined in 2008 to begin acquisitions again, but with a more coherent strategy behind it.