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Private equity firm sells automation company for $1.4B

April 24, 2019
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JR Automation
Holland-based JR Automation Technologies makes automated equipment for multiple industries. Courtesy JR Automation Technologies

A New York private equity firm has sold a West Michigan manufacturer of custom automation equipment to a Japanese company.

New York-based Crestview Partners and Tokyo-based Hitachi have entered into a definitive agreement for Hitachi to acquire Holland-based JR Automation Technologies for $1.425 billion, according to Crestview and Hitachi yesterday.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

“We are very excited to partner with Hitachi to take this next step in the company’s evolution,” said Bryan Jones, CEO, JR Automation.

“With our combined capabilities, Hitachi and JR will be a uniquely qualified global leader in next-generation smart manufacturing, and this partnership will enable us to continue to drive tangible value creation for our customers through innovative custom solutions.”

Alex Rose, partner and co-head of industrials at Crestview Partners, said his firm is “incredibly proud of the dramatic growth and transformation of JR” following its acquisition of the company in 2015.

“We want to thank outgoing Chairman Mike DuBose and CEO Bryan Jones, as well as the rest of JR’s employees for their hard work and dedication,” Rose said.

“Since our investment in JR in 2015, the company has grown dramatically from $170 million of sales and five production facilities in North America to $600-plus million of sales and 23 facilities worldwide.”

M&A advisors

For JR and the selling shareholders, New York-based Goldman Sachs and Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of American Merrill Lynch acted as financial advisors, and Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher acted as legal advisor.

For Hitachi, Tokyo-based Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities acted as financial advisor, and London-based Allen & Overy acted as legal advisor.

JR Automation

Founded in 1980, JR Automation designs, builds and programs intelligent automated manufacturing and technology solutions to solve operational and productivity challenges.

JR Automation serves customers across the globe in a variety of industries, including automotive, life sciences, aerospace and more.

The company employs over 2,000 people at 23 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and Asia.

Crestview Partners

Founded in 2004, Crestview is a private equity firm focused on the middle market.

The firm manages funds with about $9 billion of aggregate capital commitments.

Crestview’s areas of specialty are industrials, media, energy and financial services.

Hitachi

Hitachi is a provider of operational technology, information technology and products/systems.

It deploys digital technologies in a broad range of sectors: including power and energy; industry; distribution; water; urban development; finance; social infrastructure; and health care.

The company has about 307,000 employees worldwide.

Hitachi’s consolidated revenues for fiscal 2017 totaled $88.4 billion.

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