Good news for shareholders of Toronto-based RuggedCom, one of the world’s leading makers of ruggedized networking gear for the smart grid. Facing a hostile takeover from St. Louis-based Belden Inc., RuggedCom has found a white knight in Siemens Canada Ltd., the Canadian subsidiary of German industrial giant Siemens AG.
Siemens has agreed to purchase RuggedCom for $382 million or $33 a share, compared to the $272.4 million or $22 a share offer from Beldon. It represents a 50% premium on a per-share basis and, quite frankly, Siemens is a better fit for RuggedCom and for keeping innovation in Ontario.
Siemens Canada, which is based in Burlington, Ont., has a strong and growing presence in Canada — about 4,400 employees and $3 billion in annual revenues. It plans to establish a big presence at the new building being built at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. It is also pushing hard into the same smart grid space occupied by its main competitor, General Electric. Ontario is shaping up to become a hub of smart grid development in North America, so it makes sense for Siemens and Vaughan, Ont.-based RuggedCom to hook up.
I was the first journalist to write about RuggedCom with a story in the Toronto Star back in July 2006. Since then it has consistently grown revenues and profits, even during the downturn. “Either we’re going to get acquired by a strategic peer or reach a point where we’ve got … a good story to take it to an IPO,” company founder and CEO Marzio Pozzuoli confidently told me when we first spoke nearly six years ago. Pozzuoli, by the way, was a technology manager in GE’s power management operation before deciding to leave the company to found RuggedCom. Such a good move. The successful IPO part came true in 2007, and now the strategic acquisition part is coming true with the Siemens purchase. As Pozzuoli stated today, “We have great respect for Siemens and believe RuggedCom will be well positioned for continued growth and industry leadership under their ownership.”
Could RuggedCom have done it alone? Perhaps — but with the massive clout of Siemens behind it, it can do a heck of a lot better. That’s just how the cleantech space is expected to be over the coming years, as startups with great technology and proven leadership seek the resources and reach of established multinationals. An added benefit to this deal is that it seems to reinforce Siemens’ commitment to Ontario.