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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Rockwell Automation knocks back $29bn offer from Emerson Electric

World's biggest industrial robot company sees bid as undervaluing company and says it would harm expansion ambitions

Robotic arms work on cars on a production line: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
Robotic arms work on cars on a production line: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Rockwell Automation on Wednesday rejected rival Emerson Electric's sweetened takeover offer, saying the US$29 billion bid undervalued the industrial automation company and that a merger would dampen its growth prospects.

Milwaukee-based Rockwell said its board of directors was unanimous in concluding that Emerson's latest offer - about $2bn higher than a previous proposal - was "not in best interests of the company and its shareowners".

This month, Emerson outlined a plan for a combined "Emerson Rockwell" that will maintain a significant presence in Milwaukee and become an "automation centre of excellence".

Rockwell, which last week hosted the Automation Fair in Houston, on Wednesday questioned the strategic rationale for a merger.

A combination with Emerson would "dampen, not enhance, the ability to grow in the evolving industrial automation and information market", said Rockwell's chief executive Blake Moret.

"Bigger is not always better for driving growth and value creation," Mr Moret added.

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Rockwell is a leader in so-called discrete automation, helping assemble component parts to make automobiles, household appliances and computer systems.

Emerson's strength is in process automation, which helps power plants and factories in sectors including mining and cement operate more efficiently.

St Louis-based Emerson's latest offer values Rockwell at $225 per share, split between $135 in cash and $90 in Emerson shares.

Shares of Rockwell fell 1.2 per cent to $191 in pre-market trading on Wednesday, with Emerson shares were slightly higher.