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Power-One to be acquired by Swiss firm for $1B

By   /   Monday, April 22nd, 2013  /   Comments Off

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Camarillo-based Power-One, a maker of inverters for solar power systems, is set to be acquired by Swiss industrial group ABB for $6.35 per share in a deal valued at about $1 billion.

The deal bookends Power-One’s mid-2000s turnaround strategy. After struggling as a maker of computer power supplies, in 2006 Power-One bought an Italian inverter maker for $72 million.

It has since parlayed that purchase to become one of the largest inverter suppliers in the world, with more than $1 billion in sales in 2011 and 2012 and more than 10 gigawatts of installed inverters, which translate direct current power generated by panels into the alternating current used by the grid. Along the way, Power-One, which is debt free, also amassed about $266 million of cash on its balance sheet, which is included in the deal.

In a release announcing the deal, ABB said that it expects about 10 percent growth a year in the solar industry because it has become mainstream in places such as Europe.

“Solar PV is becoming a major force reshaping the future energy mix because it is rapidly closing in on grid parity,” ABB’s CEO Joe Hogan said in a statement. “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 deal is structured as a merger, and ABB said that there would be “management continuity,” though no specific plans were announced about personnel or Power-One’s Camarillo headquarters, according to the company’s investor relations firm.

The deal needs approval from Power-One’s shareholders to proceed, and ABB said that private equity fund Silver Lake Sumeru, which pumped cash into Power-One when it was struggling, has agreed to the deal.

As has become common in mergers and acquisitions, several law firms announced plans to investigate the price of the deal. Power-One shares traded higher than $12 in 2010 and for $9 in 2011. More recently shares have trended lower because of the poor macroeconomic outlook for Europe, where most of the company’s revenue comes from.
Power-One employs about 3,300 people in the U.S., Europe and Asia. The company opened a plant in Phoenix, where it made inverters for the U.S. residential market and more recently the commercial market.

“We are the No. 2 player in the world today with close to 10 gigawatts installed,” Alex Levran, president of Power-One’s renewable energy solutions group, told the Business Times when the commercial units began production. “We have products that have worked very well for the past seven years. For us, this is a good market because we’re an American company. But also, we know how to design products for PV applications.”

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