Mergers & Acquisitions

Magnetek acquires Saminco product line

Magnetek Inc., a Menomonee Falls-based designer and manufacturer of power control and delivery systems for the overhead material handling industry, announced it has acquired the DDC Direct DC Drive product line from Saminco Inc. and the associated DDC technology, patent and intellectual property rights from co-owners Eaton Corp. and Saminco.

Magnetek had a brand label supply agreement with Eaton since 2006 to provide sales, support and service of direct DC drive systems, marketed under Magnetek’s OmniPulse brand name, to the material handling industry.

The crane control systems are used in DC-powered primary metal, foundry and heavy industrial cranes.

“Replacing traditional electromechanical controls with digital DC drive technology results in a combined energy and maintenance savings that easily justifies the return on investment,” said Perry Pabich, vice president and general manager of Magnetek’s material handling business.

“The acquisition of the DDC digital drive product line and technology provides Magnetek with a unique addition to our controls product portfolio and gives us greater presence in the international crane control market, as the DDC product line has an established distribution network in Europe and South America,” Pabich said.

Saminco is based in Fort Myers, Fla., and Eaton is based in Cleveland, Ohio.

New York investors acquire Milwaukee Gear Co.

Milwaukee Gear Co. and its sister company, Treat All Metals, have been acquired by High Road Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm.

Milwaukee Gear is a manufacturer of custom precision spur and helical gears utilized in a number of markets, including energy, compressors, mining and other general industrial applications. Treat All Metals is the heat-treating arm of Milwaukee Gear and offers a line of heat treating services to Milwaukee Gear as well as outside customers.

Rick Fullington, president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee Gear, said he is “excited about the company’s future and the capital and operating support High Road and its equity partner, Charter Oak Equity, will bring to the company.”

Robert Fitzsimmons, High Road’s managing partner, told SBT that the Milwaukee companies’ management teams, employees and names will be retained. However, Milwaukee Gear’s former chief executive officer, Harold Trusky, plans to retire.

“Milwaukee Gear (and Treat All Metals) have a lot of great opportunities in the markets they’re already in,” Fitzsimmons said. “We’d like to find ways to increase their capacity and we will look for add-on acquisitions that make strategic sense.”

Both Milwaukee companies are poised for growth, according to John Emory Jr., president and chief executive officer of Emory & Co., a Milwaukee-based investment banking firm that advised the Milwaukee firms on the transaction.

Debt financing for the transaction was provided by Babson Capital Management LLC and JP Morgan Chase. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

German firm to acquire Cherry Corp.

Cherry Corp., which operates its global and North American headquarters in Pleasant Prairie, will be acquired by ZF Friedrichshafen AG of Germany.

The German firm is expanding its worldwide automotive supplier position for driveline and chassis technology.

Cherry’s corporate headquarters has seven employees, and its nearby North American headquarters has about 140 employees working in sales, administration and design, according to Dan King, the company’s vice president of finance and administration.

Most of Cherry’s manufacturing is in Germany, where it employs half of its 3,100 employees. Its North American manufacturing is based in Mexico, where it employs about 650 workers, King said.

Cherry will operate as an independent business unit of ZF, and no jobs will be lost in Pleasant Prairie, said Frank Buschemi, a spokesman with ZF. The company’s name will change to ZF Electronics GMBH, but the Cherry brand name will remain for non-automotive parts.

In 2007, Cherry had sales of approximately $400 million with 3,100 employees worldwide.

Cherry was founded in 1953 and develops as well as produces switches, sensors, control units, and electronics modules for the automotive industry, components for industrial and household applications, and computer input devices.

Peter Cherry, chairman and president of Cherry said, “This transaction has great strategic value; as it will allow Cherry to expand its current customer base and ZF will bring substantial additional resources for future growth in all of Cherry’s product segments. There are many opportunities for incorporating Cherry’s technologies into the broad range of ZF applications.”

“With ZF Electronics, we are reinforcing our competence profile in the fields of mechatronics and electronics” said Hans-Georg Harter, ZF’s chief executive officer and president. “In particular for our future tasks in driveline and chassis technology, we can swiftly apply Cherry’s know-how.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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