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January 30, 2012 4:09 PM

Kirkland, Davis Polk Help ABB Connect with Thomas & Betts in $3.9 Billion Takeover

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Swiss industrial technology company ABB announced Monday that it will pay $3.9 billion to take over U.S. electrical components maker Thomas & Betts.

Terms of the deal call for Zurich-based ABB to pay $72 a share in cash for Thomas & Betts, a 24 percent premium over the Memphis-based target company's Friday closing price, the companies said. The transaction is expected to close in mid-2012, pending regulatory approval in the United States and Europe. 

ABB plans to use Thomas & Betts's network of more than 6,000 distributors to sell its own portfolio of electrical products, including low-voltage circuit breakers, switches, and cable systems that are used to regulate electrical flow in residential and commercial buildings.

The New York Times notes that the Thomas & Betts acquisition is ABB's first major deal since November of 2010, when the Swiss company also targeted the U.S. market with a $4.2 billion purchase of Fort  Smith, Arkansas–based industrial motors and transmissions maker Baldor Electric. Kirkland & Ellis advised ABB on the Baldor deal after representing Atlanta's Vista Equity Partners in its sale of an American energy services and software manufacturer to ABB earlier that year.

Kirkland is leading the way for ABB once again in the Thomas & Betts deal. New York M&A partners Thomas Christopher and Daniel Wolf handled the matter. Diane de Saint Victor is ABB's general counsel.

Thomas & Betts, meanwhile, has hired Davis Polk & Wardwell as counsel on the selling side of the transaction. The Davis Polk team working on the matter includes corporate partners Paul Kingsley and Michael Davis. Employee benefits partner Edmond FitzGerald, litigation partner Lawrence Portnoy, and antitrust counsel Stephen Pepper also are advising. J.N. Raines is general counsel for Thomas & Betts.

Davis Polk advised Thomas & Betts on a $500 million line of credit last year.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson corporate partner John Sorkin is advising Deutsche Bank Securities in its role as financial adviser to Thomas & Betts.

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