Slow Boil For Abb In The U.S.Tim Smart and Gail Edmondson
While scouting the U.S. for acquisitions in the late 1980s, ABB Chief Executive Officer Percy Barnevik couldn't help noticing the 30- to 40-year-old boilers still in service at many American electric utilities. It seemed to be a rare opportunity for the newly formed Swiss-Swedish ABB Asea Brown Boveri (Holding) Ltd., the result of a merger of two European engineering companies. Barnevik went on a spending spree, paying more than $2.3 billion in 1989 for Combustion Engineering Inc. and Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s electrical-transmission-equipment unit. He aimed to have a one-stop shop ready to do business once the utilities started buying again.
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