(Bloomberg) -- ABB Ltd, the world’s largest maker of power grids, agreed to buy Austrian industrial software and automation company Bernecker & Rainer Industrie-Elektronik GmbH for an undisclosed sum to bolster its services business.

The acquisition was funded with cash and is expected to be completed by mid-2017, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. B&R generated revenue of more than $600 million in fiscal 2016 and operates across 70 countries.

“B&R is a gem in the world of machine and factory automation and this combination is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Spiesshofer said.

Traditionally a maker of hardware, Zurich-based ABB is seeking to lock in future growth by expanding in higher-margin software and services. B&R specializes in machine and factory-based automation and generated sales of more than $600 million in fiscal 2016.

ABB said it’s targeting mid-term sales of more than $1 billion for the business, which employs more than 3,000 people.

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To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tara Patel at, John Bowker, Thomas Mulier

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