Johnson Controls yet to make decision on Power Solutions business

CEO emphasizes making right move over sticking to timeline

Johnson Controls International plc is still considering all possibilities for its Power Solutions business, despite reports last week the company was nearing a deal to sell its battery operations to Brookfield Asset Management.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday afternoon the potentially $14 billion deal hit a snag and Apollo Global Management had been invited to rebid on the business.

George Oliver, Johnson Controls chairman and chief executive officer, said Thursday before the WSJ report that the company has assessed multiple options and is now in the final stages of a strategic review of the business.

“We’ve been very disciplined in making sure whatever the outcome is we’re going to be positioned to create the most shareholder value,” Oliver said during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call.

On previous calls with analysts, Oliver had said the company planned to have a decision by the time it released earnings today.

“A little bit disappointed on the timing, but you know, it’s something that we can’t control,” he said. “What I would say is that we have made significant progress, there are a significant number of considerations that we’ve taken into account and what I believe is most important now is making the right decision versus keeping to a set timeline.”

The Power Solutions business has higher margins than the Building Technologies and Solutions segment that makes up the rest of Johnson Controls. Oliver was asked by analysts how the company is balancing the potential sale of a business that benefits earnings with creating a more focused operation moving forward.

“We’re looking at all of that,” Oliver said. “The ability to be able to create value short- and long-term, we’ve taken all of that into account.”

“This is an incredible business with a market leading position that is in an attractive vertical and it will be for some time,” he said, adding that Johnson Controls also has to be positioned to take advantage of opportunities in its buildings business, arguing the company can take advantage of its technology offerings and sales channels.

“We’ve gone through thorough reviews as we’ve gone through the process. We’ve made a lot of progress, there’s been a lot of learning in some cases, but it’s making sure what’s right, not only for our investors as well as for the employees that are part of that (Power Solutions) business.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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