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Johnson motors its way to Saia-Burgess

With a new owner, Saia-Burgess hopes to expand its market position

(Keystone)

Johnson Electric says that holders of 83.6 per cent of shares in Switzerland's electronic parts maker Saia-Burgess have accepted its takeover bid for the firm.

At the same time, Saia-Burgess announced it was continuing its expansion course, buying a company in the United States in the automotive business.

Last week, Japan's Sumida group pulled out of the race for Saia, agreeing to sell its 29.4 per cent stake to Johnson, clearing the way for the Hong Kong company to take over Saia, which is based in Murten, in canton Fribourg.

Announcing the final results of its public tender, micro-motor maker Johnson said on Monday its offer of SFr1,060 ($815.5 ) per share had been "successful".

A statement said that the company had complied with a takeover regulation requiring a buyer to secure acceptances from holders of more than 50 per cent of the fully diluted shares of the company.

Shareholders' meeting

Johnson Electric, which made the bid through its Gatebrook unit, said it would elect two members to the board of the Swiss firm during a shareholders' meeting later this month.

Johnson Electric extended the acceptance period for Saia-Burgess shareholders until October 14.

It said it would release the results of the acceptance level three days later.

"We are very encouraged by this result. With Johnson Electric's established presence in global markets for micro motors and motion systems we will be able to generate synergies and accelerate growth for Saia-Burgess," commented Patrick Wang, chairman and CEO of Johnson Electric, in the statement.

Air-conditioning

In a related development, Saia on Monday announced it had bought the CEI company in the US – a manufacturer of actuators for car air-conditioning systems – for $21 million.

The acquisition makes Saia-Burgess the US market leader in actuators for air-conditioning systems in the automotive industry.

The CEI company, which is based in Springfield, Tennessee, has a workforce of around 200 and will generate this year a turnover of about SFr60 million.

Saia-Burgess said it was financing the deal through bank loans. This would result in total debt of around SFr130 million at the end of this year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

In July, the Japanese group, Sumida, offered SFr950 per share to acquire Saia-Burgess.
One month later, Johnson Electric of Hong Kong put forward a counter-offer of SFr1,060 per share.
Management of the Swiss company said from the beginning that it considered Sumida's offer to be hostile.
The board of Saia-Burgess unanimously approved Johnson Electric's offer, their long-term business partner.

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In brief

With the withdrawal of Sumida of Japan, the way was clear for Johnson Electric to take over Saia-Burgess.

Johnson Electric is one of the world's largest providers of micro motors and integrated motor systems in the automotive, power tools and home appliances sectors. It is also active in the audio-visual and personal care sectors.

The group, which has its headquarters in Hong Kong, employs over 32,000 people in 14 countries worldwide and achieved a turnover of US$1.144 billion in the business year ending 31 March 2005.

Johnson Electric is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and is listed on the Hang Seng Index.

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