Landis+Gyr just announced that Toshiba, a leader in electronics and power systems, will acquire Landis+Gyr, a leader in smart grid metering, for $2.3 billion in cash after a bit of a bidding war involving General Electric and others.

Landis+Gyr has over 8,000 utility customers worldwide, and the acquisition immediately makes Toshiba a major player on the smart grid landscape. General Electric was rumored to be an early bidder but ultimately dropped out. With Landis under its belt, Toshiba will become one of the primary players for smart meters and utility infrastructure equipment.

The Swiss-based company is best known for its metering, but Landis+Gyr also has applications for distribution automation, an area of the market that is expected to grow to $9.6 billion by 2015, according to GTM Research. But meters aren't exactly old hat. There will be hundreds of millions of smart meters worldwide in coming years. The State Grid Corporation of China, which controls the grid on 80 percent of mainland China, is using Landis+Gyr for a 10,000-meter pilot. If successful, the payoff could be a contract for tens of millions of meters. 

The equipment aspect of Landis+Gyr, along with a sales channel to utilities and industrial customers, plays to Toshiba's strengths, allowing it to leverage its precision engineering and focus on cutting-edge R&D. Landis+Gyr also has a home area networking device that could be improved and expanded under the Toshiba brand. 

The big winner in the acquisition, according to a recent article by Michael Kanellos, is an investment organization called Bayard Capital. Bayard Capital bought Landis in 2004 for an undisclosed sum. Bayard, which invests in energy and water technologies, then rebranded all of its properties under the Landis+Gyr name. Other shareholders include Allianz Capital Partners, DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, and Dubai International Capital. 

Landis was a struggling company in the '90s and changed ownership several times.