Updated: Thermal processing equipment specialist Despatch Industries has been acquired by Illinois Tool Works for an undisclosed amount. ITW does not have any direct previous involvement in the PV industry. Despatch had posted record revenue in 2010 of US$200 million and is expected to produce revenue above US$200 million this year. ITW's revenues exceeded US$15 billion in 2010.
“We are excited about this acquisition as the company's core thermal technology aligns well with certain of our other existing electronics equipment businesses,” commented Steve Martindale, executive vice president, ITW. “As a leader in thermal processing, Despatch provides us with immediate access to attractive and high growth industries such as solar and carbon fiber as well as the opportunity to extend sales of certain of our existing products into these new markets.”
“This is an exciting opportunity for Despatch employees and customers as it will allow us to accelerate our growth and innovation under the global umbrella and strength of ITW,” said Patrick Peyton, Despatch CEO. “Despatch's strong market presence and proven technology, coupled with ITW's global breadth and foundational strength, will facilitate a strong expansion of technology advancements and next-generation tools.”
According to a PV-Tech guest blog by Finlay Colville, senior analyst at Solarbuzz, earlier this year, Despatch had benefited from the significant c-Si cell capacity expansions seen, primarily in Asia.
At this year’s SNEC event in China, Despatch said afterwards that it had received orders and letters of intent for more than 50 of its latest c-Si furnace models.
“Since releasing firing furnace products for back-end c-Si cell lines in 2005, Despatch had assumed a dominant position as the leading equipment-supplier in this space,” noted Finlay Colville to PV-Tech. “By the end of 2011, Solarbuzz projects that Despatch's cumulative firing furnace shipments to PV will exceed 43GW of nameplate capacity. While the downturn in PV equipment spending is unavoidably going to impact on quarterly revenues during 2H'11, Despatch's strong market share – and brand recognition – with Tier 1 Chinese cell manufacturers will be a key factor behind ITW's successful entry to the PV equipment supply chain.”
ITW's key business are said to include welding, automotive OEM, industrial packaging, food equipment, construction, polymers and fluids, test and measurement, electronics and automotive aftermarket segments. The company employs more than 60,000 people worldwide.
Clear wording from exclusive financial advisor’s, ThinkEquity to Despatch Industries over its acquisition by Illinois Tool Works, highlight that the equipment supplier had been actively seeking a buyout. Despatch has long been a privately-held firm.
Bryan Dow, ThinkEquity vice president said in a statement over the acquisition that, “ThinkEquity cultivated a multi-year relationship with Despatch and was honored to have advised Despatch and its shareholders in identifying and ultimately partnering with a company with ITW's financial strength, reputation and global resources.”
Patrick Peyton, Chief Executive Officer, Despatch Industries was quoted as saying, “We trusted that ThinkEquity would be meticulous in finding a company like ITW that is a great fit for the Despatch business model.”